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Free Health Insurance Options When COBRA Costs Too Much

Posted on: August 8th, 2012 by Kristen Marie

doctor writing prescriptionsWhen you lose your job, you normally find yourself in a tricky and difficult financial situation. And for many this makes COBRA health insurance just too expensive to keep up with. Luckily, if you find you can not afford COBRA, there are some free and reduced health insurance options out there for people living at or below the federal poverty line.

  • Option 1: Medicaid – Medicaid insurance is offered through state governments to lower-income people, children and children, people living with disabilities, and the elderly.   The specific requirements for signing up and eligibility are designated by each state but almost always include people over 65, people with disabilities living under a certain income limit, and families with children living under the poverty line.  The cost of Medicaid depends on your income and will be determined individually by the Medicaid department in your state.  Medicaid normally covers everything that a typically employer sponsored program would cover.
  • Option 2:  CHIPs for Kids – CHIPs, which stands for Children’s Health Insurance Program, is a program designed specifically for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but can’t afford to buy their own insurance plan.  In most cases, children are eligible if the family earns less than $45,000 (in 2012) a year and can use the coverage until they are 19 years old.  Pregnant women can also use CHIPs in most states.  CHIPs has a different cost in every state but normally does not exceed 5% of income monthly.  Coverage is similar to a group insurance plan.
  • Option 3:  Community Health Care Centers – Many communities have opened up their own health centers that provide free and very reduced cost care to residents.  Many people without health insurance find that these centers can be good places to go for care.  Normally you can learn about community health centers by contacting your local Health Department.

What If I Don’t Qualify For These Programs?

Some people will find that their income is too high to qualify for any of these programs, but COBRA is still too expensive. In that case, private insurance is probably the best option to lower your costs and find something that works for your budget. Individual and family plans will be the most expensive private plans, running about $400 monthly for a family. Catastrophic and high deductible plans can be as little as $100 monthly for a family but will only provide very basic coverage. To find out what private plans you may qualify for, you can use the health insurance quote box to learn about your options.

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