Low Income Health Insurance
Surging costs of health care in the United States have created a crisis for low income families. In a 2005 survey by The Commonwealth Fund, while 96% of families earning more than $60,000/year reported having a health insurance to help absorb the burden of these rising expenses, an astonishing 53% of low income families were uninsured or had a lapse in coverage in the past year.
Uninsurance can have devastating consequences. Among them:
- Compared with insured persons, uninsured individuals and their families are four times more likely to avoid seeing a doctor for preventative or urgent care due to cost.
- Due to a lack of preventative care options, advanced stage diseases are diagnosed 30-50% more often in the uninsured.
- The Institute of Medicine estimates that 18,000 uninsured adults die from preventable diseases annually.
- Because advanced-stage diseases are more prevalent in the uninsured, 20% of uninsured adults (versus 3% of insured) also say their usual source of health care is the emergency room, where the cost of a single visit costs $3,300 on average.
- One third of uninsured families report having significant difficulty paying medical bills, and one in four say they have had to change their lifestyle significantly to pay bills.
Health insurance is in the best interest of both your health and your wallet. With an adequate insurance policy, not only will you have the peace of mind that any medical emergencies you encounter won't strain your budget. You'll also be less at risk for encountering medical emergencies, through preventative care options that can significantly reduce your likelihood of developing terminal illness.
Two Health Insurance Plans You Can Afford
Even if traditional insurance plans like HMOs and PPOs are too expensive for your budget, there are alternative options you should research. Two promising options are mini medical insurance plans and Health Savings Accounts, both of which charge much lower premiums than standard policies.
Mini Medical Insurance
For as little as $50/month, you may be eligible for a mini medical plan that will cover a predetermined number of doctors visits, many prescription medications, daily hospital benefits, and limited accident coverage. If traditional comprehensive plans like HMOs and PPOs are too costly for your budget, consider talking to an insurance broker to see if mini medical insurance is right for you and your family's needs.
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Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Like mini medical insurance plans, Health Savings Accounts are an inexpensive and relatively new way to obtain coverage for your health needs. These work in combination with a type of alternative "consumer driven" health plan called an HDHP, or High Deductible Health Plan. HDHPs are often called Catastrophic Health Insurance, because carriers who issue these plans will pay any expenses that exceed your annual deductible — often up to $2 million. Although the deductibles are higher than those for HMOs and PPOs, the premiums will be substantially lower.
The supplementary HSA gives you a large discount on medical expenses by enabling you to make tax-free deposits and withdrawals for doctors visits, prescription medications, and many other health costs you might need to cover, provided that you qualify. Together, the HDHP and HSA allow you to save a substantial amount of money on preventative care, with the additional peace of mind that any unanticipated accidents or health emergencies will be covered by your policy.
Only a licensed insurance agent can advise you which insurance plans will be most beneficial for your needs and your budget. For more information about these policies, and to find out whether you qualify, request a quote today to speak with an agent in your area.