Are the healthiest you can be? It all starts with the basics like eating healthy food, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. In fact, if you take these kinds of basic steps you can avoid a lot of possible health problems. Some experts even say that most health problems are caused by a bad diet. Let’s be honest though. It’s also true that “stuff” happens in life so it’s important to be prepared for times we need a check-up, meds, or even surgery. In these situations, low-cost health insurance can be a big plus to help cover the costs when you need more than fruits & veggies.
If you’re on a fixed or shoestring budget the problem can be finding cheap health insurance. US healthcare costs alone hit $3.6 trillion (with a T) in 2018. Sometimes it seems like it’s impossible to find affordable health insurance that doesn’t cost a small fortune. Finding low-cost insurance is critical for many people today. After the basics like rent/mortgage, food, utilities, and cable/web expenses there’s often not much leftover. What’ s a person to do? It’s still important to take out a health insurance plan for healthcare costs and possible emergencies that could take place.
Sky-rocketing Healthcare Costs
It’s fair to say that we should expect health insurance costs to increase generally due to inflation. The prices of other things like food, electricity, and Internet increase so it’s reasonable for health insurance premiums to increase, right? That’s true but it’s safe to say that premiums have been spiking every year for quite a while.
This can make things tough for households. You know how important healthcare is but you have to make things like mortgage or rent a priority. You’ll need to get to work, school, and stores so transportation costs are also a must. Even after streamlining your personal or household budget it often seems like there’s nothing left for health insurance.
It might seem logical to simply forget about health insurance and instead eat right and exercise. In theory, this could work to a certain extent. However, remember to expect the unexpected. It’s unfortunate but sometimes people get sick even if their general health is good. Sometimes it can even be a serious condition.
That’s why it’s important to remember that old saying that “health is wealth.” Taking out a health insurance plan can help to provide some financial help if you need it for check-ups, meds, procedures, and so on.
Does this mean you’ll always need to use your health insurance? You might need the coverage often or rarely. As the name suggests the important thing is to have some protection in case you or a household member needs medical service
You should still get the health insurance plan that has the coverage you need. This will help to avoid getting lots of perks that you’ll unlikely need based on things like pre-existing conditions. On the other hand, if you have no health insurance then you’ll be in a world of trouble if you have a medical emergency and no way of paying the bills.
Low-Cost Health Insurance Options
The good news is you have some options if you want to secure health insurance but don’t want to spend tons of money. Here are some of the best options:
1. Supplemental Coverage
Technically this isn’t medical insurance. It’s more like a discount since you get a low premium with fewer benefits. You should forget about special coverage like preventative care.
Here’s how supplemental coverage works. You get a lump sum for medical expenses that you qualify for. You should still consider this option if you just want to pay for the basics in terms of healthcare.
This is a good option if you’re working for a company and get offered these kinds of plans. These group coverage plans often include your company subsidizing the plan’s costs.
3. State/Federal Insurance
This includes options like Medicaid in the US that are funded by both governments. The benefit is you can get the same benefits as private health insurance. If you qualify for such programs you can save lots of money and it’s often one of the cheapest options for health insurance.
3. High Deductible
These are “catastrophic plans.” They offer low premiums and high deductibles. There are plusses and minuses of these plans. These plans offer little essential coverage. However, often you can only buy these plans during Open Enrollment.
4. Short-term Plans
If you’re young/healthy then this is a good option. The main drawback is these plans offer little coverage. This is a good option for emergency expenses due to injuries/illnesses. Meanwhile, you should basically forget about getting help with pre-existing conditions since they’re usually not “short-term.”
5. Medishare Plans
This is another “plan” that isn’t technically medical insurance. These are religious-based plans. They’re like insurance but they’re based on community members helping to pay the bills of people who need help.
How to Lower Healthcare Costs
Picking a cheaper health insurance plan is just the start. Here are some other ways to lower costs:
1. Spousal Coverage
Sometimes you can save money by each of you being on a separate plan with different employers. Make sure to read the fine print since other options like your spouse on your plan might also be cheaper instead.
2. FSA/HAS Account
These are Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs). This allows you to get the same amount of coverage while paying a lower tax bill.
3. Avoid Employer Plan
If your spouse isn’t on your health insurance plan some companies will actually give you money for a plan elsewhere. This scheme isn’t offered much but it’s certainly worth asking about just in case it is.
4. Non-Smoker Status
If you qualify as a non-smoker then you can often enjoy lower premiums on health insurance. Smokers are at a greater risk of various health problems like asthma and lung cancer.
5. Health Coach Programs
This type of program helps you to stay healthier while saving your employer money. It’s a win-win situation for both parties involved. When companies have lower-risk workers in terms of healthcare this helps to lower your premiums.
6. Live Healthier
In theory, you should be eating right and exercising anyway. An added bonus is you could save a small fortune on healthcare costs. The modern lifestyle is one of the reasons healthcare costs are sky-rocketing. Junk food, sitting all day, etc. are causing people to spend more on healthcare like insurance. Living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean you won’t get sick but it can help to reduce your total expenses like low-cost health insurance.