Medical costs are on the rise, and so are the monthly premiums for health insurance coverage and care. Depending on your situation, you have several affordable health insurance options, including having someone else pay for it or signing up for discounted coverage.
Your employer or the government may offer insurance at a lower price than if you purchased it independently. If you are young and healthy, you might choose to get a different type of coverage that fits your budget better.
The government has three main health care programs that provide free or low-cost medical coverage for households with lower incomes. These are Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Depending on your state, the CHIP and Medicaid programs may have different names, but the general requirements are similar to those in other states.
Medicare is a health insurance program the government provides for seniors older than 65 years of age and younger individuals who have a terminal condition or a serious disability. You are likely eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A if you have a work history of 10 or more years.
Medicare Part A covers inpatient care, and you will still be responsible for out-of-pocket costs like meeting the deductible and copayments. Part B provides coverage for inpatient care.
Medicare Part D deals with prescription medication, and Part C is a combination of A, B, and sometimes D, offered by private health insurance companies. These other three sections of the Medicare program have premiums.
Medicaid is available to households with very low incomes that would not be able to afford insurance even with a subsidy. Eligibility requirements can vary by state, but most households are eligible if their earnings are less than 133 or 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The following are the current federal poverty level (FPL) for 2023:
- 1 person – $14,580
- 2 people – $19,720
- 3 people – $24,860
- 4 people – $30,000
- 5 people – $35,140
- 6 people – $40,280
- 7 people – $45,420
- 8 people – $50,560
You might be dual-eligible for Medicaid and Medicaid if you are a low-income senior or have a qualifying condition. In these cases, Medicaid may cover your Medicare premiums.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is exclusively for minors. CHIP is a part of Medicaid, but it has more lenient requirements, so more children have medical coverage. Kids can be eligible for CHIP even if their parents or caretakers do not qualify for Medicaid.
You can always try alternatives to employer- or government-based health insurance.