Getting health insurance is one of the smartest investments you can make for your family. By enrolling in a medical coverage plan, you can ensure you’re protected in case you, your spouse or children have a health emergency.
Unexpected medical bills have caused many families to go into debt. That’s because routine procedures or trips to the emergency room can cost families thousands of dollars if they’re not insured.
However, by having health insurance, you can lessen the amount you’d be financially responsible for in the event of a medical crisis.
Even if you understand the benefits that come from health insurance, you may be unsure how you can enroll in a plan. Your options are largely based on your employer and how much money your family makes.
The following sections explain the different ways you can get health insurance to help protect your family. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the various options so you know you’re getting the best deal with the most coverage for you.
Tip 1: Find out if your employer offers health insurance plans.
If you’re a full-time employee at a large company, it’s likely that your employer will offer health care insurance options you can choose from.
In these instances, your employer purchases group plans from different health insurance companies. Then, these options are presented to you.
There are various benefits to obtaining health insurance through your employer. Some of these perks include:
- Convenience. One of the hardest parts of signing up for health insurance is finding a plan that best suits your family’s needs. When you sign up for a plan through your employer, there’s a select number of plans you can choose from. Since you don’t need to sort through and compare a bunch of offers, the process is easier to complete.
- Affordability. If you find your own health insurance plan, it’s almost guaranteed to be more expensive than what you could get through an employer. Since the company you work for pays a portion of your insurance costs, you can access these benefits more cheaply than you could otherwise.
- Support. When you enroll in your employer’s health insurance plan, you’ll likely have access to advisors who can help you in case you have any questions about your policy. This makes it simpler to troubleshoot any issues you’re having when you start utilizing your benefits.
If you’re a full-time employee at a sizable company, speak with your human resources (HR) department about the different insurance options you can take advantage of. If your employer offers insurance, it’s probably going to be your best bet at getting affordable, comprehensive coverage for your family .
Then, find out how you can enroll. Whether you have just started a new job or have been working with a particular company for a while, there is a limit to when you can apply for benefits. These are referred to as enrollment periods.
Contact your HR representative to see if you’re in an enrollment period now. Otherwise, you’ll need to find out when will be the next time when you can apply for health insurance.
Tip 2: See if you qualify for COBRA coverage.
If you’re in between employer health insurance policies, you might qualify for COBRA coverage.
COBRA is available to individuals who are losing the health insurance coverage they had been receiving through a previous employer. Due to this requirement, not everyone qualifies to start receiving COBRA insurance.
If you just lost your job, you may qualify for COBRA. In order to be eligible for this insurance, you must have lost your employer-sponsored health insurance for one of the following reasons:
- You voluntarily quit your job.
- You involuntarily lost your job (restrictions apply).
- You started working less than the required amount of hours and could not continue receiving your employer’s health insurance.
If one of these applies to your situation, you may be able to get COBRA coverage. Furthermore, you might even be able to get COBRA for your dependents or your spouse.
If you qualify for COBRA and don’t want to start searching for a new health care plan, this gap insurance can be a good solution for you. With COBRA, you’re eligible to continue using the same insurance you’d previously had, but you become responsible for paying all the costs.
To enroll in COBRA, you should start by contacting your health insurance company. You can also reach out to your previous employer’s HR department and ask about enrolling in COBRA.
Tip 3: Check out opportunities on the health insurance marketplace.
You may be wondering, “How can I get health insurance if I’m not eligible for COBRA and can’t get health insurance through an employer?” In this case, you need to visit the health insurance marketplace.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is a resource you can use to help you find medical coverage plans. This site is either operated by the federal government or the state you live in.
If you want to obtain health insurance and don’t qualify for coverage through an employer, you’ll likely need to buy insurance through the marketplace. When you visit your state’s site, you can:
- Purchase health insurance plans.
- Compare plan benefits and costs.
- Learn if you qualify for free or low-cost insurance programs.
Similar to health insurance offered through employers, there are certain periods throughout the year when you can enroll in insurance through the marketplace. These time periods are referred to as “open enrollment” periods.
Tip 4: See if you qualify for Medicaid, CHIP or Medicare.
Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be eligible to obtain government health insurance for yourself or your children.
Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) plans are distributed to applicants based on where they live and how much income their households earn. If you qualify for either of these plans, you may be eligible to obtain comprehensive medical care at no cost or for a reduced fee.
If you’re older than 65 years of age, you can also access low-cost health insurance. However, your benefits are available through Medicare.
Once you enroll in Medicare, you are responsible for purchasing a policy that works best for you. There are different types you can obtain, based on your budget and health care needs.