Free or Low-Cost Health Care..

By: Taylor

Those who are unable to afford health insurance have access to free or low-cost health care. The Affordable Care Act has made new provisions and rules which extend the eligibility requirements needed to meet free or low cost health insurance beginning in January 2014. In participating states, the eligibility for Medicaid will be expanded. All adults, even those without dependent children, with an income of up to 133% of the poverty line will qualify. The new law also provides a ‘income disregard’ of up to 5%, making the effective income eligibility limit 138%.

Beginning January 1, 2014, more people than ever before will be able to purchase health insurance through the Healthcare Exchange Program. People with low income or people who are unable to buy health insurance due to budget constraints may be eligible for free or low-cost plan or a new kind of tax credit lowering the monthly premiums. There will be different financial assistance programs too. These programs will be directly linked into the Health Insurance Marketplace beginning in October of 2013. Until then, the free or low cost health insurance through Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is available. Uninsured children up to 18 years with family income of $46,000 per year for a family of four can qualify for Medicaid or CHIP. Some states offer enrollment in Medicaid or CHIP at even higher income levels.

Some of the current low cost or free health insurance options are discussed below are as follows:

Private Insurance: Low cost health insurance can be purchased from different private health insurance companies. The Affordable Care Act has made this process simpler through two of its key features A uniform glossary of terms and a uniform summary of benefits and coverage (SBC). The two things combined, allow consumers to more easily compare the options and benefits of all insurance companies. The Health Insurance Marketplace – available in October of 2013 – will also assist in this task.
Medicaid: Each state operates its own Medicaid program covering lower-income people, families and children, the elderly and those who are permanently disabled. Those who find it difficult to afford private health insurance as well as those with low-income can find medical insurance coverage through the Medicaid program. Most people under age 65 having individual incomes up to about $15,000 per year will qualify for Medicaid in every state by the beginning of 2014. States are allowed to charge premiums or offer Medicaid on a cost sharing basis. This will vary from state to state.

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