How to Get Health Insurance
Health care costs in America can be high and depending on your financial situation, they can be difficult to pay for and dangerous to go without. However, there are federal and private services that you can qualify for in order to get most/all of these costs covered every year. These services, or health insurance plans, are very widespread and varied. Therefore, it is important to know what coverage you need, and how to get it.
Why You Need Health Insurance
Many people may think that because they are in good health, they do not need health insurance. However, this is incorrect! There are a number of reasons that everyone should have at least some health insurance coverage, as discussed below, but the biggest reason is that it is the law. Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, all citizens must have some health insurance, although some changes may eliminate fees for lack of coverage.
Who is eligible for health insurance?
Because health insurance coverage is mandatory, basic coverage is available to anybody who is willing to pay the most basic premiums. There are also additional coverage plans available for those who qualify, such as Medicare and Medicaid. You can be automatically enrolled in healthcare coverage by your employer, or choose to purchase your own coverage. Additionally, individuals younger than 26 years of age can be covered under their parents’ health insurance plans if they desire.
Potential Problems with Not Having Health Insurance
As was previously mentioned, there can be many problems with not having any sort of health insurance. The first and most prominent problem is that you will be fined every year that you are not covered, as outlined in the Affordable Care Act. These fines are due whenever you file your taxes for that year, and equate to 2.5 percent of your annual income. These fines also increase for each member of your household that is not covered by health insurance – therefore, this is one of the most compelling factors that convince many Americans to get health insurance.
The next possible problem with not choosing to get health insurance is that in the unfortunate instance that you have a medical emergency, you may not be prepared to pay for it. Some medical procedures are far more intensive and expensive than others. It may not seem like a reason for concern if you were to break your ankle without insurance, perhaps the costs to reset the bones and get placed in a cast are not too intimidating. However, if your ankle requires surgery and therefore a long hospital stay, you could need to pay tens of thousands of dollars in order to cover all of the medical costs. Instead of going completely uninsured and incurring the entire cost of these hospital bills, many Americans opt for high deductible coverage plans – this means that there is a certain higher-than-average amount of your hospital bill that you must pay before your insurance can cover the rest. While this deductible may be an inconveniently high amount, it is likely significantly better than being forced to pay the entire amount of your bill, and potentially going bankrupt.
Finally, having health insurance makes an individual more likely to go to their doctors, and to receive preventative care treatments. Going to the doctor without health insurance can get expensive very quickly. Regular doctor visits are extremely important, because they can help you to learn about your overall health, and about any symptoms you may have that have the potential to turn into something dangerous. Thus, getting health insurance gives you an incentive to go to your doctor more often, especially if you have already reached your deductible.
Types of Health Insurance Plans
There are four main types of health insurance: private company insurance, generic federal health insurance in 2018, this falls under the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, Medicare and low-income insurance. Each of these types has different levels of coverage, and different eligibility requirements needed in order to apply.
Private health insurance is what can be offered in the free market, from individual health care companies. These insurance plans can be further broken down into group insurance, which one might get as a benefit of working for a full-time employer, and individual/family insurance, which one might get to cover just themselves or their family. Private health insurance is one of the most versatile coverage options – you can opt for the minimum usually high-deductible plan or pay much more in premiums for a better benefits package.
Federal health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is similar to private health insurance in that anyone can apply for it, but it is generally useful for different reasons. In general, monthly premiums for federal health insurance are much lower than those under private insurance. This is especially helpful for individuals who would like to spend less on health coverage each month. However, with lowered premiums comes a higher deductible that you must meet whenever you visit your doctors or the hospital. Additionally, health coverage under the Affordable Care Act does not guarantee that you can apply your health insurance to any doctor that you might like – some physician networks to not accept this kind of coverage.
Medicare is the health care service for individuals older than 65 years of age, as well as certain individuals with qualifying disabilities and illnesses. There are different types of Medicare coverage plans that cover different services. You can contact your doctor to see what kinds of Medicare covered services you may need access to, and plan your coverage options accordingly.
Finally, low income health coverage is available for those individuals and families that qualify. The most common services available to these vulnerable groups are Medicaid or, state-run health insurance and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. These programs can help you/your family by providing low-cost health insurance, as long as your household falls below a certain income level that is determined each year. Check with your local Medicaid office or visit the Medicaid government website to see if you qualify.
How to Apply for Health Insurance
Because each type of health insurance coverage is different, the application process for each is also vastly different. For example, whereas private health insurance companies will require you to apply through their own designated channels, federal health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid all have their own government websites that facilitate the application process. Once you have determined the right health care coverage for you, you can contact the appropriate provider directly to get more detailed instructions on how to apply.