As always, I think it is important to first recognize that “Obamacare” is simply the colloquial term used to reference many different aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and healthcare reform in general. The actual health insurance policies are still provided through private insurance companies – United HealthCare, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield etc. Since it is much easier to use “Obamacare” while referencing any type of insurance that is affected by the ACA I will continue to use it here as well. It is not always easy, however, to determine how much Obamacare will cost.
Is Obamacare free?
The two factors that affect the cost of Obamacare the most are your household size and your yearly income. By using these two pieces of information we can estimate where you will be placed on the subsidy scale – if your income falls below, or above, the scale you will not have access to any health insurance plans with reduced rates.
A common misconception is that individuals or families with little or no income will qualify for free insurance through Obamacare. If your income places you below the subsidy scale then the federal government is going to tell you to apply for Medicaid. For people who live in states that expanded Medicaid in 2014 then this could potentially be a good path to explore. However, if your state did not expand Medicaid then you, most likely, will still not qualify (unless you are pregnant or have children) and we will need to look into getting you a full priced health insurance plan.
What if I can’t afford Obamacare?
Luckily, outside of Obamacare, there are many affordable options. In addition to Obamacare plans, health care reform has created a lot of new programs that make other types of health insurance very affordable. Short term medical insurance is the best of these options. Despite the fact it does not satisfy Obamacare’s minimal essential coverage requirements, short term medical plans have been growing in popularity, especially among healthier individuals and families.
Short Term Medical (STM) plans have many of the aspects that people look for in health insurance; and since they reward people for being healthy STM plans are often times hundreds of dollars cheaper. You can choose your own deductible, decide whether you want doctor and prescription medication copays and even add on dental and other ancillary products with one streamlined bill. Most of the major health insurance carriers offer STM plans.
Buying the stripped-down, short-term policy could save a 30-year-old Florida man $1,123 in premiums over a year, compared with a typical bronze-level HMO plan Tozzi, Businessweek.com.
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