With the ever-increasing cost of health care, procedures and medicines, it's no wonder that the cost of health insurance has also dramatically risen over the past few years. But as that's happened, insurance companies and the government have seen the potential negative impact of families and individuals without insurance. There are some things you can do if you don't have health insurance.
A federal mandate requires that all 50 states have a health insurance program for children. Each state was allowed to create a plan tailored to the needs of children in that state, but there are some things that are the same from one state to the next. The first is eligibility.
Government funded health programs typically have very stringent income guidelines. These health insurance programs have income requirements, but the criteria allow higher income than most programs.
Another criteria for participation is that the child isn't covered by any other health insurance. That differs from most programs in a very important way. Most programs say that if the family has access to insurance, they aren't eligible. That means that parents who have employer-based insurance don't qualify. But many of the employer-based plans are too expensive, and workers sometimes simply can't afford the premiums. This program is designed to help fill that gap.
These programs don't cover families - only children. But there are some great benefits for those who qualify. Some states offer mental health benefits, transportation to and from appointments and dental/vision benefits.
If your children don't qualify for this program, or if you're in the market for individual health insurance for an adult or private insurance for a family, you have some options. Even though insurance is typically very expensive, you can take some steps to control costs.
You can eliminate extras such as vision and dental coverage, and increase deductibles to lower the cost of your insurance premiums. Look for policies that don't include maternity benefits and cancer plans as more affordable general health insurance plans. Basic coverage will likely be less expensive than an all-inclusive health insurance program.
Finally, shop before you make a decision. Even if you're offered employer-based insurance, you might find a better deal elsewhere (depending on the amount of employer participation). Look to professional groups for discounts and advice.
Jeff Lakie is the founder of Insurance Resources a website providing information on Insurance
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