by James Tuck
Millions of Americans have discovered that health insurance is one expense they cannot fit into their monthly budget. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 34 percent of the 45 million uninsured families in the U.S. have incomes above, in some cases well above, the poverty line. Many of these same families do not meet the low-income guidelines that would qualify them for state healthcare assistance. In this environment, families must practice preventative care, maintain savings so that they can pay for medical care out-of-pocket, and shop for affordable health insurance policies that can provide at least some level of coverage. The following ideas can help individuals and families get quotes for health insurance that fits into their budget without completely breaking the bank.
1. Scale back coverage levels. Many people start looking for health insurance that covers as much as possible, including every office visit, prescriptions and more. The cost of this type of policy becomes unaffordable very quickly for people with children or pre-existing conditions. Instead, look for affordable health insurance quotes online on policies that require the policyholder to pay for smaller, routine expenses out-of-pocket, while providing coverage for the larger expenses such as emergency room visits, necessary surgery and hospital stays.
2. Shop around and get several quotes. The time it takes to contact various health insurers and get quotes could be worth hundreds of dollars each month off the price of a health insurance policy, so the effort makes this step well worth doing. Look for online sites that can provide quotes from several health insurers at once, and make sure to select the same options for each quote. Every insurance company uses a different formula for assigning risk to an individual’s health profile, which results in a variety of price quotes for the same coverage from different companies. Some health insurance sites also have tools that allow consumers to compare policies from different providers and find the best features for the lowest price.
3. Increase the insurance policy deductible. One of the easiest ways to get more affordable health insurance quotes is to agree to a higher deductible or copays. Each consumer needs to weigh out-of-pocket costs and the frequency of their doctor visits against the cost of paying higher premiums for a smaller-deductible insurance policy that covers these things. Paying $50 for a doctor visit three to four times per year makes more sense than paying $100 per month extra for a policy that covers routine doctor visits.
4. Sign up for a health insurance policy while young and healthy. Insurance companies base their rates on each individual’s probability of needing medical services in the future. For individuals that have pre-existing conditions, regular health insurance can become very expensive.
5. Buy health insurance through an employer. Fewer employers are offering health insurance these days, or they have scaled back from paying 100 percent of the costs to requiring employees to subsidize their plans. For consumers that have failed to find cheap quotes on independent health insurance policies, switching jobs to an employer that offers good benefits might offer a solution. Additionally, certain groups and associations, such as the Rotary Club, AAA or professional teacher and accountant organizations, offer group health insurance plans for people who do not have employer health insurance benefits. Investigate these policies carefully, because the coverage targets the average person’s needs and may not include coverage for certain pre-existing conditions.
6. Consumers can also find out about low-cost health insurance options through local Social Services offices after exhausting other options. Social Services may be able to offer information on health insurance companies that have lower quotes and premiums than most, or companies that cater to families with certain needs.
Many families put off getting proper medical care because of their lack of health insurance. This includes preventative care and yearly exams, making it harder to catch disease in its early stages and more expensive to treat it once the person finally seeks medical care. The more often people demand affordable health insurance quotes, the more companies and the government will listen. Affordable healthcare is not yet a reality for every family, but hopefully the future will bring changes in healthcare policy and cost controls that can make health insurance more affordable for everyone, regardless of their income.