Buying health insurance can be scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. Maybe you’ve been covered under a parent’s plan and now you’re flying solo.
The first rule about health insurance
is you definitely should have it. You could face tax penalties for being uninsured, or rack up thousands in medical bills from an injury or unexpected health problem.
So what are your options?
Sign up for employer-based insurance
Most employers provide group health insurance
to full-time employees. Employers often subsidize or fully cover the cost of monthly premiums.
Employers may have a variety of health plans to pick from.
If you don’t have employer-based insurance, here are some options:
If you’re 18-25
- Stay on a parent’s plan. You can be covered under a family plan until age 26.
- Find a college plan. Many colleges offer affordable student health insurance.
If you’re 26 or older
- Consider a catastrophic plan. This is a low-premium, high-deductible plan that offers bare bones benefits and is designed for healthy people under 30.
- Enroll in Medicaid. If you’re unemployed or low income, you may qualify for a reduced-cost health plan administered by your state.
- Sign up for insurance through the federal Insurance Marketplace (HealthCare.gov) or your state’s insurance marketplace. If you are low income, you may qualify for subsidies to cover the cost of monthly premiums.
When you apply for coverage in the Insurance Marketplace, you will need tax records of your income from last year to determine whether you qualify for subsidies.
If you don’t qualify for subsidies in the Insurance Marketplace, you can also buy insurance directly from an insurer or through a broker.
Once you understand the options, look at details of the plans and how they compare to your current insurance. If you want to keep your doctors, you’ll want to make sure they accept the insurance plan you choose.
Think about your healthcare needs and pick a plan that will save you the most money. If you see doctors often, you might choose a plan with a higher premium and lower deductible. If you’re healthy and don’t see a doctor often, you might consider a catastrophic plan if you’re under 30.
Young, healthy people sometimes think they don’t need to spend money on health insurance. But remember, you’re one accident or illness away from needing it.