If you are without health insurance, a medical emergency or illness could bankrupt you and your family. Sixty-two percent of all personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills and illness, according to a study by researchers at Harvard Medical and Law Schools.
To protect yourself from the risk of a health-related bankruptcy, it’s essential that you choose an individual or family health insurance plan that meets your routine health needs and provides coverage for medical emergencies.
Find the money
Protecting yourself from the risk of a medical bankruptcy is worth making a few adjustments to your budget.By cutting out nonessential items and activities from your monthly spending, you may be able to free up the money you need to pay for a health plan. This worksheet on plugging spending leaks will help you get started.
By cutting out nonessential items and activities from your monthly spending, you may be able to free up the money you need to pay for a health plan. This worksheet on plug spending leaks will help you get started.
Health care options
Not sure where to begin your search for affordable health care coverage? Here are five possible sources.
Employer-based health plans. If you work for a company that offers health carebenefits to workers, you may be given a choice of plans. Look for lower-cost coverage through managed care plans such as preferred provider organizations (PPOs) or health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Another way you may be able to lower annual health care costs is with a high-deductible health insurance plan. Some high-deductible plans can be linked to tax-advantaged health savings accounts(HSAs).
A parent’s health plan, if you’re under age 26. According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a parent may add or keep a child on a parent’s health insurance policy until the child turns26.
Individual health plan. You can purchase an individual health plan or family health plan directly from an insurance company. If you’ve been unable to qualify for a private health plan because of a pre-existing medical condition, be sure to check out the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) available in your state under the ACA. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the ACA prohibits insurance companies from refusing to sell coverage or renew policies because of an individual’s pre-existing medical condition.
Medicaid. Lower-income individuals, families and children, seniors, and people with disabilities may qualify for coverage through the Medicaid program offered in their state.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This program provides low-cost health insurance coverage to children in lower-income families with earnings above the limit to qualify them for Medicaid.