With so many health insurance options, choosing a policy that offers the right mix of coverage and value can be difficult. Factors like deductibles, premiums and co-insurance have a…
Need help navigating the deep and confusing waters of health insurance? Here are answers to the most common questions about health insurance.
Health insurance is a contract with an insurance company that provides coverage for certain services in exchange for your payment of a premium. The specific healthcare services that are covered vary by the health plan. All plans must cover certain essential minimum benefits:
You might want to obtain additional health insurance if the plan offered by your company does not include coverage for healthcare services needed by you or if your employer’s plan does not cover your spouse or your children. Since many plans do not cover dental or vision care for adults, you might want to purchase health insurance for those services.
The cost of health insurance varies widely depending on the specific plan you have, your location, household income, whether you smoke tobacco and your age; the costs vary both in the cost of monthly premiums and the out-of-pocket expenses you must pay, such as co-pays and deductibles. For example, you might be required to pay a co-pay of $50 for each visit to your physician. You might be required to reach an annual deductible amount, which is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket, before the insurance plan will pay for any service. This deductible could be several thousand dollars. Your monthly premium, which could range from $0 to several hundred dollars, might be paid partially or entirely by your employer, or you might receive tax credits to help you pay the monthly premiums. You might pay full-price for your plan’s premiums.
As long as you enroll in a health insurance plan and pay the monthly premiums, you cannot be denied health insurance, even if you have a preexisting condition.
You should complete an application through the individual Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov to determine whether you are eligible to receive Medicaid in your state. If your modified adjusted gross income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, then you likely qualify for tax credits that can be used to reduce the monthly cost of premiums. If you are under 26 years of age, then you can remain on your parent’s health insurance until that age. Catastrophic coverage plans might be an option for you as well, as a last resort.
If you are self-employed, a freelancer, consultant or independent contractor — in other words, you have a business that earns income but you do not have any employees — you can find health coverage options on the individual Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov. You can also shop for health insurance through a broker or independently if you are not satisfied with the options available through the health insurance exchange.
If your employer does not provide health insurance, then you might be eligible for financial assistance to pay for health insurance premiums or public benefit programs that provide healthcare for no or low cost.