Alternatives and ways to save on health insurance in 2016
Health insurance is too expensive. Why should I pay for a service that I do not even use? Is there any way I can bypass Obamacare and not have to pay the penalty? Are there any alternatives?
These are questions and concerns that many people have had. True when you compare health insurance to other types of insurance it is expensive. What most people do not realize is it is much less expensive that the cost of a hospital stay. Today with the Affordable Care Act in place many people are eligible to receive help paying their premiums. If you qualify and do not mind your health insurance being tied to your taxes, which has been problematic for some, by all means apply using the Health Insurance Marketplace in your state.
Why should you pay for a service that you do not even use? One example is we all pay into the social security system. We are not sure that it will be there when we need it but the hope is that it will be. If the funds are there in the future we hope to reap the benefits. Those that have never paid into the system or do not meet the requirements cannot expect to reap the benefits. It’s similar with health insurance. If you do not contribute to the system then should you expect to reap the benefits? Many people even ones who can pay have this attitude. When do they call to purchase insurance? When they get sick. This is equal to walking up to a stranger on the street and asking them to pay your bill.
Is there a way to bypass Obamacare and not have to pay the penalty? No. All comprehensive major medical insurance plans are subject to the Affordable Care Act which has been nicknamed Obamacare. If you do not have an insurance plan that complies with the law you will have to pay a penalty. The only way around the law is to qualify for an exemption.
Are there any alternatives for those who cannot afford the new plans that conform to Affordable Care Act? Yes but they do not help you to avoid the shared responsibility penalty. Many people have turned to Short Term Medical Insurance as a lower cost alternative. In many states you can purchase a Short Term Medical plan for 364 days and purchase another plan which would start as soon as that plan ends. These plans are generally less expensive than the new ACA plans. How can you know if this is the best choice for you?
First find a licensed agent that understands how Short Term Medical Plans work. Before you make a choice find out how much an ACA compliant plan will cost you for one year. Next calculate what your penalty will be under the ACA. Find out how much a Short Term Medical Insurance Plan will cost you for one year. Add the yearly cost of the Short Term Medical Plan and the total estimated tax penalty. If it’s lower than the cost of the ACA compliant plan it may be a satisfactory alternative for you.
Some things to keep in mind before you choose this route. Short Term Medical Insurance is not guaranteed issue. You do need to answer health questions and you do need to qualify. There are lifetime maximum limits. Some plans include doctor visit copays where as others do not. They are also not required to cover preventative care 100% which is required by for all ACA compliant plans. They are major medical plans but they do have their limitations.
Other ways to save money is by not purchasing more insurance than you actually need. Choose a higher deductible plan or an HSA (Health Savings Account) eligible plan. Open an HSA account and use it to pay your everyday routine care. Purchase a Gap Plan such as supplemental accident or chronic illness insurance. Some of these plans will pay you a lump sum per incident. Read your policy to see if there are any hidden benefits that you do not know about. Free Health Assessments, Teledoc services, discounts at wellness facilities or for dental or vision care. If you have a chronic illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure that requires several doctors’ visits throughout the year be sure to choose a plan that includes doctor visit copays.
Make sure you use doctors within your network. Do not assume that the doctor is in your network just because they appear on the insurance company’s provider list. Call the doctor’s office to be sure they take your insurance. Note that although two people may have insurance with the same company their insurance plans may not use the same network. You need to be proactive. Ask questions. If you go for an MRI, or for lab work be sure the facility you use is in your plans network. If you do not do your homework it will cost you in the end.
When purchasing a health insurance plan it’s always recommended to use a licensed agent in your state that is familiar with all of the options for you both on and off the exchange. Using an agent cost you nothing and in no way affects the price of your policy which is regulated by the government. They can not only show you the plans but can make recommendations as to which plan would be the best fit for you. Navigators, call center representatives, or other assisters can show plans but are not authorized to make recommendations as to which plan would best fit your situation. They cannot show you all of the options that are available to you in your area as many plans are offered only off the exchange. Only a licensed independent agent can show you all of the plans that are available in your area. Skipping this step and going it alone can cost you in the end.