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Free government health insurance offer has ended – here are your new options

By on October 7, 2021 0


Free government health insurance offer has ended – here are your new options

Now that a pandemic relief program offering free health insurance to millions of Americans has ended, anyone who hasn’t found a new solution will need to find one quickly.

Going without coverage is never a good idea, especially at a time when the United States is registering more than 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day.

But just because a bailout benefit has expired, that doesn’t mean there’s no more help. A number of special incentives are still in effect.

Here are your new options for affordable coverage and why you’ll want to make a change right away.

COBRA starts to bite

COBRA health insurance.

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For many years, laid-off Americans were able to temporarily retain the coverage provided by their business thanks to a law called COBRA.

It’s a welcome but expensive lifeline. You have to pay the same amount as when you were employed and pay the bill for the amount the business was paying.

How much is it ? Last year you would have paid on average $ 7,470 for individual coverage and $ 21,340 for family coverage, according to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

The deal has improved a lot after the massive layoffs during the pandemic. The $ 1.9 trillion US bailout saw the federal government pay the premiums for unemployed Americans, giving them free coverage for up to six months.

It’s been over since September 30. Now, if you want to keep your old insurance, you’ll pay top dollar – and you can usually only stay on COBRA for up to 18 months.

Your best bet is start looking for cheaper options right now.

Millions more adopt market plans

Affordable Care Act plans document.

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If you haven’t already, it’s time to check out the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. Anyone who does not want to pay for COBRA is entitled to a special 60 day registration period.

HealthCare.gov looks more attractive than ever and Americans are taking advantage of it. A record 12.2 million people are now enrolled in federal and state market plans, the federal government announced in September.

If you’ve received unemployment benefit anytime this year – even for just a week – you may be able to snag a zero premium plan for the next few months.

Although this free coverage will end in December, the US bailout offers a wide range of low cost coverage at least until 2022.

Members of HealthCare.gov now pay no more than 8.5% of their income to their health insurance. And the government says about half of new users of HealthCare.gov pay a monthly premium of $ 10 or less, after tax credits.

Medicaid or marriage may contain an answer

Medicaid concept.

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Another potential solution is Medicaid, which can provide free or low cost health coverage. No need to watch the registration window: you can apply online at any time of the year.

You may qualify based on a combination of your income, disability, marital status, and household size, but in states that have extended Medicaid coverage, you may qualify based on your own. returned. For a single adult, this threshold is approximately $ 1,482 per month.

States have different rules, but many make it easier for you to find out if you qualify. Some offer real-time determinations of your eligibility and allow automated renewals.

Otherwise, if your partner has purchased insurance through their employer, you may be able to benefit from this plan. And when you do find another job, you can ask if a group plan is available, although you may have to wait for open enrollment to resume.

Whichever route you take to find health insurance, now is the time to weigh your options. Once you find affordable coverage, register as soon as possible to lock this plan.

How to pay your premiums

business accounting with saving money with hand putting coins into glass of financial jug concept

beautifulday12 / Shutterstock

If you are unable to get free coverage outside of COBRA, you will need to find the money to pay your premiums, along with all of those out-of-pocket expenses.

Here are some ways to free up some extra cash:

  • Reduce the costs of your other insurance bills. If you haven’t compared quotes recently, you could be overpaying for your coverage. You could save up to $ 1,000 per year on your auto insurance just by shop for a better price, and the same movement could save hundreds on home insurance, too much.

  • Consolidate – and write off – your debt. Credit cards can be convenient, but it comes at the cost of very high interest. Erase your debts sooner by consolidating your balances into one debt consolidation loan with lower interest rate.

  • Invest in a better future. I hope you have invested a good part of your career. But if you’re not making a regular salary right now, look for an investing app that lets you invest your “spare currency”, turning pennies into a diversified portfolio.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.