Nobody wants to pay for their health insurance. Do you? Often, most benefits are not utilized, and policies cost thousands of dollars each year. Sometimes, every month! So what’s the solution to getting free or very cheap benefits, but at the same time, maintaining high quality standards.
Simply find a way to pay less (or nothing at all!) for quality medical coverage and save your money. Our recommendations aren’t ideal for everyone, but they might be the best option for you. Here are our seven ideas:
Corporate Plans. Although hard to find, there are still employers that will pay 100% of your healthcare premium. Some of these companies include Zappos.com, NewStar Energy, Microsoft, EOG Resources, GoDaddy.com, Boston Consulting Group and Qualcomm. There are dozens of other employers that will pay 90% (or more) of the premiums.
Additionally, many companies will contribute a fixed dollar amount (perhaps $1,000-$3,000 per person) that can be deposited into a separate fund for your personal medical expenses. If you can avoid major claims, you will have very little or no out of pocket costs. And since preventive benefits are covered at 100%, all of your funds can be directed towards symptomatic medical expenses.
Medicare. If you’re 65 and live here in the US, there’s a great chance you are eligible for benefits. I realize that this may not be new information to most consumers, but there are quite a few people that aren’t familiar with Medicare eligibility requirements. If you can qualify, the benefits are fairly comprehensive and you’ll like the price! Although it’s true that you have been paying for many years for the right to receive these benefits, they will continue as long as you live.
You can also purchase supplemental benefits to Medicare (Medigap and Advantage Plans). The “Advantage” policies have very little or no premium and provide coverage for many of the expenses Medicare misses. They also often include dental and vision benefits. However, it is possible that these types of plans may not be offered in the future due to changes and updates in legislation. Medicare-Supplement contracts are widely available and can be easily tailored to fit your specific situation.
Medicaid. No, I’m not repeating myself. I’m only 55 so I’m not senile yet. Medicaid is quite different than Medicare. In recent months many states have been considering the expansion of their Medicaid programs. The minimum eligibility standard for parents is 133% of the Federal Poverty Level. Adults without children can qualify if they are disabled or if their state has a separate established program.
Many states have recently expanded their eligibility requirements, so if you have been previously denied, you may approved if you apply now.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will typically provide benefits for a family of four with income under $45,000. Coverage is very comprehensive and can often be customized to meet specific needs. For ages of five and under, the income requirement (family of four) is reduced to about $30,000. For ages 6-18, the income amount reduces to $23,000. NOTE: Guidelines vary in different states.
Benefits are very comprehensive and contain complete preventive coverage including office visit, prescription and hospital coverage. Depending on the state, you may also be eligible to receive dental and vision help.
CHIP is completely run by each state although funding for the program comes from both the state and federal government. Typically, it is administered by Medicaid expansion, a separate program or a hybrid of both. The Affordable Care Act provides more financial assistance to CHIP, so there’s no immediate danger of it suddenly ending. If your household income reduces, it is possible to be ineligible one year, and eligible for coverage the following year.
State Health Insurance Exchange Open Enrollment. Each November, you can apply for a policy without providing any medical information. The premium you pay will be based on your age, zip code, smoking status and how much money you make. The earliest effective date is typically January 1 of the following year.
The “Patent Protection And Affordable Care Act” (signed into law in 2010) awards a subsidy to help reduce the amount you pay for your healthcare. The less money you make, the more assistance you receive. For example, suppose you are a 30-year old single mother of two children and make $25,000 per year.
Since you would receive between $6,000 and $7,000 per year in financial aid, you could perhaps obtain a “Bronze” plan at no cost or a “Silver” plan at about $40-$50 per month. The four available plan options for Open Enrollment are Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The Platinum plan is the most expensive since you pay the least out of pocket money.
But ALL four plans have 100% preventive coverage along with office visit, specialist, prescription and hospital benefits. Each year, you can change from one policy to another, if it is better-suited to your needs, or if the makeup of your family changes. You may also qualify for a Special Enrollment Period that allows you to obtain subsidized policies during any time of the year.
Move to another country. Seriously, we don’t really advocate moving to another country to take advantage of free healthcare. Although your medical treatment may be free, the quality is likely to suffer. But in case you’re interested, some of the major countries that offer free healthcare include: Canada, Australia, Israel, Japan, Greece, Italy, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, United Kingdom and Hungary. Wait times for certain procedures are often very long.
The countries that offer the worst type of medical coverage include: Sierra Leone, Myanmar, Nigeria, Liberia, Mozambique, and Zambia. However, of Westernized countries that you are more likely to visit, the following are known to have very inefficient systems: Russia, Brazil, Algeria, Columbia, Iran, Bulgaria, and Belgium.
Get Temporary medical coverage. Often referred to as “short-term” policies, although not free, they are the cheapest form of legitimate health insurance you can buy without any type of government assistance. Prices are low (typically in the $30-$70 per month range), approvals take less than a day and you can complete an application online in about 15 minutes.
Depending on where you live, you can keep benefits for as long as 6 or 12 months, and usually the policy can be renewed once before you have to shop for a different company to write another policy. They also are not Obamacare-approved, which means that any current conditions you are being treated for will probably not be covered. And there is a pesky tax you will have to pay since you purchased a policy that did not contain all of the required benefits.
There you go. Seven great ways to obtain free or very cheap healthcare. You can compare prices on our website and quickly determine which type of individual or family medical coverage is best for you.