Everyone needs medical insurance. In fact, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), medical insurance coverage became a mandated requirement for U.S. citizens. The individual mandate, as it is known, required everyone to have insurance or pay a penalty.
While the penalty portion of the mandate has recently been set at zero, the requirement is still in effect. One of the major goals of the ACA was to create a system of affordable healthcare coverage for Americans. And, while what is considered “affordable” is still debated, most people want to save as much money as possible when it comes to health insurance.
Considering Cheap Health Coverage
When it comes to finding cheap medical insurance, California residents do have options. However, it’s important to understand that “cheap” may not always provide the best benefits, and that there are a number of financial components to medical insurance coverage costs.
Too many people focus only on the monthly premium for healthcare coverage, which averages about $430 per month for one person in California, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
While this may seem affordable to some, this is only one aspect of health coverage costs.
As Sandra Latham at TheSimpleDollar.com points out,
“Health insurance can be expensive, but before you decide to go without, take a careful look at the risks. For instance, according to WebMD, there’s a 1 in 5 chance you will land in the ER at some point between the ages of 25 and 44, a trip that could cost you as much as $1,450 a pop. If you need surgery on a broken arm, you could be on the hook for more than $16,000 if you’re without insurance.”
You may be tempted to think that, with essentially no penalty for not having medical insurance, you can save enough on your own to cover any potential medical costs down the road. Not likely. As Latham goes on to note,
“And, sure, you might think to yourself, “Well, I’ll just put aside money every month in my savings account in case I have to go to a doctor.” That may work out fine for a while, but what if you break your leg, for instance? The average cost to fix a broken leg, according to HealthCare.gov, is $7,500. And hopefully you won’t wind up in the hospital for three days. That will typically run you $30,000.”
For a family of four in California, the average monthly premium alone, without subsidies through CoveredCalifornia, is around $1,200. And, if you’re over 50, the costs increase significantly. Some states are far more expensive than California, for example, while many others are less costly. However, on average, customers over 50 will pay almost three times more per month than a customer who is 21.
An article at TheStreet.com notes this,
“After age 50, premiums rise tremendously. At age 53 the average premium is more than double the base rate, and by 55 the average premium is $446. At age 60, the average premium is $543. If a person is 64 years old, the average health insurance premium is $600 – 3 full times what it is at 21.”
And we have only been speaking of the monthly premium so far. Medical insurance costs must also factor in copays and deductibles in terms of your out-of-pocket expenses. Typically, the lower the monthly premium, the higher the deductible and, in most cases, the various copays. Consequently, “affordable” healthcare must take all these factors into account.
A Brief Guide to Affordable Healthcare Coverage
Healthcare.gov states that a state exchange is simply another term for the Health Insurance Marketplace, and that it is a service available in every state to help individuals, families, and small businesses shop for and enroll in affordable medical insurance. In California, the state exchange is known as Covered California.
While it is convenient, it’s important to know that the state exchange is not your only avenue for finding cheap health insurance. You have several other options, and you will benefit by checking out one or all of them.
Here are some essential steps for finding affordable healthcare:
Shop and Compare
You have several options for buying health insurance and it can be beneficial to check out one or all of them.
Direct Through Insurance Companies
Insurers may have other plans available on their websites that are not offered through Covered California. Many companies will let you do plan comparisons enabling you to see more detailed information, as well as allowing you to apply online.
Through an Agent
There are two main types of insurance agents: “Captive” agents who offer products through only one company, and independent agents (or brokers) who can offer you plans from several insurance providers.
Through an Online Insurance Finder
Online insurance finders are similar to independent agents, except that the information provided by you and the plan offered by them, is all done online.
Ask Your Parents about Staying on Their Plan
If you’re under 26, you can be on your parents’ health insurance plan because of the provisions of the ACA. Paying them the additional cost on their plan may well be your cheapest option. You can use this option even if you’re married or otherwise financially independent of your parents.
Consider a High-Deductible Health Plan
Under the ACA, you’re eligible for a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with low premiums if you’re under 30, or over 30 and qualify for a hardship exemption. A HDHP typically provides three primary care doctor’s visits per year, prescription coverage, and other essential benefits.
You must pay out-of-pocket for any medical care outside those limits until you reach a comparatively high deductible. These averaged $7,900 in 2019 according to The Simple Dollar. While you’ll pay low premiums with a high-deductible, or catastrophic plan, experts say only those who are young and in excellent health should consider them.
Your Local Experts for California Medical Insurance
JC Lewis Insurance, a family-owned firm of expert brokers based in Sonoma County, offers California health insurance plans only from the leading health insurance carriers licensed to do business in California.
Not only are we expert brokers, we are licensed and certified by each of these insurance carriers to offer coverage to individuals, families, and small group employers in addition to Medicare supplemental and prescription drug plans for seniors.
If you are self-employed, or your employer doesn’t provide health benefits, an individual or family plan may be the best option for you or you and your family.
And if you’re looking to purchase medical insurance for you and your family, you will likely have many questions and concerns. Bring your questions about health coverage insurance and you can be confident that JC Lewis Insurance Services will help you find the right solution.