Our health is our most treasured asset. Sadly, when you fall sick or require medical attention, you rack up quite a bill at healthcare facilities. Many individuals are protective of health care costs and have subscribed to retail health insurance or government plans. Even with low-cost insurance policies, they cost the taxpayer hundreds of dollars every month. Thankfully, with government policies in place, you can significantly cut the cost of your insurance plan without sacrificing coverage. Here’s a complete guide to finding the cheapest health insurance in 2022.
What Is the Average Cost of Health Insurance?
The Affordable Care Act minimizes health care premiums. In 2021, the average American paid around $645 for health insurance premiums. Still, that was a spike from the typical $477 region. Those on the Medicaid plan enjoy the cheapest insurance plans. However, a specific cadre is eligible for Medic Aid, as Medicaid points out. If you earn less than about $17,600 as an individual or less than $36,150 living as a family of four, you are eligible to get Medicaid which costs less than all other health insurances.
How to Get the Cheapest Health Insurance?
Since health insurance is a must-have primary need, you must get one. But with most health insurance premiums on the thriftier side, finding an affordable healthcare plan for you and your family may be daunting. With the following methods, you can get the cheapest health coverage you are eligible for and enjoy multiple perks.
1. Go Through Your Employer
The most straightforward way to lessen your health insurance premiums is to go through your employer for a cover. Employers, by law, are required to have bulk coverage for their full-time employees. If you are eligible for employee health insurance cover, take a cover for you and your family. Doing this will enable you to pay lower premiums than you would be paying for an insurance plan you shopped on your own. Employers pay part of the cost resulting in a lower premium for you. You pay between zero and 25 percent of the premium cost for an employer-sponsored insurance plan. However, the employer allows you to choose between higher premiums with more coverage or lower premiums with limited coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, employees on employer-sponsored insurance paid $5,588 in premiums for the year 2020, while employers paid $15,754.
2. Shop for Insurance Through Your State’s Health Insurance Marketplace
Yes, agents explain the whole healthcare policy but charge more premiums. The Health Insurance Marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, offers a marketplace for health insurers to provide their plans and prices. Shop around different agencies or the eHealth website to get the most affordable insurance for you. Compare plans, premiums, and out-of-pocket costs to get the best programs providing more bang for your buck. The insurance marketplace is ideal for those not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare and who don’t qualify for employer-sponsored health insurance.
In the marketplace, Minnesota pays the cheapest silver plan at $385. The Silver plan is a standard healthcare plan that covers about 70 percent of your healthcare premiums, according to Money Geek. For this plan, you pay more than the national average for the Bronze plan. The Silver plan costs $503 per month and has an average out-of-pocket maximum of $7,954. Moreover, while on the Silver plan, you may be eligible to benefit from cost-sharing reductions, which reduce your deductibles and co-pays. Some states offer Catastrophic and Platinum insurance tiers that usually cost more and are reserved for the wealthy or vulnerable.
Pro tip: If you want to switch health care insurance plans, wait for open enrollment, which usually starts on November 1st and runs through to January 15th, as it did for 2022.
Open enrollment allows you to change plans without any penalties or fees. If you miss open enrollment, you may be eligible for special enrollment if you are disabled, losing other coverage, getting married, or having a baby. You are also eligible to apply for insurance without waiting for open enrollment if you qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a plan meant for families that make too much to be eligible for Medicaid but can’t pay for private health insurance. Remember, health care insurance obtained at the state insurance marketplace varies depending on location in the state and coverage policy.
3. Check for Subsidies
Did you know you can get tax credits for health care insurance plans? Below certain income levels, you get Medicaid, a health insurance plan to help low-income earners. The cut-off level to get Medicaid is 133 percent of the federal poverty level. To put the numbers into perspective, you are eligible for tax credits if you make less than $12,760 annually. However, each state runs its own Medicaid program. 12 American states require you to be eligible for Medicaid based on income levels and meet other requirements, such as age 65. The other 38 states accept Medicaid.
Medicare is another plan you should check if you are eligible for, especially if you are over 65. It is important to note that a state-issued Medicare plan covers only two parts of the plan. The parts are hospice care, inpatient hospital care, and limited time in a skilled nursing facility hospital stay. The other part is reserved for healthcare providers and caters to certain preventive services, home and outpatient health care. Those on employer-sponsored insurance can receive tax benefits if the company offers a plan that costs more than 9.8678n on insurance obtained through the state’s marketplace, as WebMD explains. For these subsidies, the farther you are from the poverty level, the lesser grants you will have.
4. Enroll in Health Sharing Ministries
Umbrella health insurance plans always cost less than you would pay as an individual. Depending on the state you resign in, you can enroll in religious organizations to enjoy low-cost health insurance plans. Not all organizations qualify for low-cost insurance under the Affordable Care Act. To be eligible, the organization must be non-profit. The organization must also share the same beliefs and not discriminate against other groups. Also, it must have been formed before 2000. The procedures a health sharing ministry health insurance plan covers are fewer than the other secular-based policies. Each ministry has its own rates and policies. The Christian Healthcare Ministries charges $78 to $172 per month. Another group is the Medi-Share group, which charges between $181 to $627 depending on the coverage level.
5. Try High Deductible Plans
If you can avoid falling sick or injuring yourself for most of the year, you can try high deductible plans. The national average an individual pays for high deductible health insurance plans is around $500 monthly and 1,550 for families. The catastrophic plan is an example of a high deductible health care plan. This plan limited your visits to three times a year. The maximum out-of-pocket expenses for high deductible health insurance is $7,000. The drawback to a high deductible plan is you have to pay upfront for other expenses not in the policy until they meet the deductible amount. In the long run, a high deductible plan is costly if you need medical care services frequently. To lower your costs, you can set up a health savings account that allows you to enjoy saving for future medical expenses without being taxes
6. Consult a Broker
Consult a broker or agent if you’ve tried all the above methods and still haven’t found the cheapest health insurance. Some brokers are experts exclusively in health insurance. You would want to consult them since they can find you the best medical coverage for a much lower cost if you shop alone. On the flip side, brokers receive payment from insurance companies via commission. The agent may recommend an expensive plan so they can get better remuneration. One way to counter unscrupulous brokers is by working with agents directly linked to many insurance companies. The National Association of Underwriters is a starting point for looking for the best brokers.
7. Stay with Your Parent’s Cover
Under the Affordable Care Act, if you are under 26 years of age, you can remain on your parent’s insurance plan. The premiums will increase if the parent covers you and your spouse. However, the total cost is less than the individual sums of separate insurance policies. The significant merits of sticking with your parent’s insurance plan, other than low premiums, are that you will stay on the plan even if you live far away or are married but still under 26.
The ACA provides multiple avenues to get inexpensive health insurance. However, other options outside of ACA offer even cheaper alternatives. A short-term health insurance policy is a popular plan for those seeking medical cover on a budget. Short-term health insurance provides limited short-term cover and is meant only to be a stop-gap. Alternatively, you can stay healthy and avoid smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, and exercising daily. The benefit of being committed to a healthy lifestyle is not the stay fit utopian idea every fitness center sells. Under the ACA, insurers can provide discounts to individuals willing to lead an active lifestyle.
Employers also offer incentives if you participate in a wellness program at your job. Some fitness apps pay you to exercise. You can redeem the payment for health insurance or receive discounts on your premiums. Farm Bureau provides a cheaper alternative to those who don’t qualify for Medicaid, Medicare, or employee-sponsored insurance. The catch is you have to be healthy and not have preexisting conditions. Farm Bureau may reject your medical insurance application based on your medical history. This Farm Bureau plan does not cover preexisting conditions like the short-term insurance plan.
Settling on A Health Insurance Policy
Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get it, nor does expensive. Not to sound like a broken record, but you get what you pay for. The low-cost premiums usually don’t cover prescription drug costs or alternative medicine practices like chiropractic care. Cheap health care insurance alternatives do not cover:
- Lab services
- Ambulatory patient services
- Mental health and substance abuse disorder services
- Pediatric health services, including dental and vision
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitate and habilitative services and devices
- Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn health care.
Before committing to a health care insurance plan, assess your health risk and crosscheck against the insurance plan. If the program ticks all the boxes for you, wait for open enrollment to avoid penalties. The must-haves of a good health insurance policy are:
- A well-connected doctor network. Sometimes you will need insurance to cover your visits to your private or family doctor instead of going to the ER. If the plan doesn’t include your doctors, it is not worth a try.
- Prescription drug coverage. Medication is expensive. You need a plan that pays the bill for most of the prescription drugs.
- Dental coverage. Plans do not have homogeneity of dental cost covers. If you often need dental assistance, consider having health insurance coverage with dental coverage.
Consider the budget. An expensive health insurance plan is a deal breaker. You will know what amount you will pay by using your state’s health insurance marketplace and online insurance checker platforms such as eHealth. A health insurance budget is based on your monthly contributions to health insurance as a household. Also, when making the financial commitment, consider if you will pay more later or if the policy will change.
Finding the cheapest health insurance is not a daunting task. Use the information in this writeup to find affordable insurance plans that offer the best coverage for you and your family. Premium costs vary from state to state. Always read the fine print before putting pen to paper on health insurance.