It’s clear that the Affordable Care Act has had a positive effect on the American population. Since enacted into law, more Americans have been able to afford health insurance than ever before.
But the Affordable Care Act isn’t free. As its name suggest, it’s just more affordable than before. Even with government subsidies, health insurance has a price to it. What if you still can’t afford health insurance? If you don’t have money for insurance, you surely don’t have money for the penalty.
What is a person to do if they can’t afford health insurance under the Affordable Care Act?
If you can’t afford health insurance, you should first check to see if you qualify for Medicaid. You can do this a couple of ways. The first is to check to see if you qualify based on your income alone. This link will ask you a couple of questions to get you started and point you in the right direction based on which state you live in.
Another option is to apply for Medicaid. You can do this by filling out a form on the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you qualify (or someone in your household) you’ll be sent specific information based on the state you live in. They will help you with enrollment and your payment options.
You can also apply for Medicaid by going directly to your state’s Medicaid agency website. Scroll down the bottom half of this page to find your state’s agency site. If you live in California, here’s a link to Medi-Cal.
Be aware, there is no enrollment period for Medicaid. If you qualify, you can get coverage at any point in the year.
Unfortunately, not every state offers Medicaid, so check to see if you live in a state that does. There are currently 31 states that have Medicaid expansion.
What If I Can’t Get Medicaid?
If you can’t afford health insurance and have been denied Medicaid, you have the options to buy a catastrophic health insurance plan. If you are under the age of 30 or have received a “hardship exemption” from the government, you can purchase catastrophic health insurance.
Catastrophic plans are very low-cost plans that have a very high deductible. It’s a way for you to get the minimum amount of coverage by law, without paying much. These plans are not available through government marketplaces and must be purchased through private companies. Catastrophic plans are not available for government subsidies either.
It should be noted that even catastrophic plans are covered by the out-of-pocket maximum set by the government. If you exceed the annual limit, your health insurance company pay for essential covered benefits. In 2016 the out-of-pocket maximum is $6,850 for an individual and $13,700 for a family.
Getting health insurance isn’t just a good idea anymore, it’s the law. But affordable health care doesn’t mean everyone can afford it. If you are in a spot where health insurance is too expensive, check these alternative options to get your minimum coverage.
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