Monday, August 24, 2015

Reducing your health care costs under the ACA

I've had a few women approach me and lament about the high costs of health care, even those offered through the Affordable Care Act. The women are in the middle of serious life changes, two cases include their spouses losing their jobs and another was moving and never adequately covered in the first place. Children are in the picture as well, and the urge to enroll in some sort of health insurance is even more important.

The ACA, or Obamacare as it has been labeled by the media, was passed to ensure that more Americans were covered by health insurance. It also extended coverage to those who had pre-existing conditions and extended additional care for women as well. The health care program as it stands right now makes companies liable for covering its employees, unless they want to be hit with penalties. This also applies to the self-employed and any American who opts out of their employer's health insurance plan.

Anyone who loses their job can choose to continue paying for their employers' plan under the COBRA act, but the responsibility of paying for premiums falls on the shoulders of the terminated employee. This can be a large expense at a time when there is no income to look forward to in the near future. Other choices are to enroll under the ACA plan or use government assistance coverage, which is known as Medicaid.

The cost of health care options depend on an individual's income. But with premiums now increasing, it makes it that much harder for individuals to afford the options available to them unless they qualify for Medicaid. Since the ACA was passed to make health care more affordable, it would make sense to rely on this option most.

Steve Goldman from the Oklahoma Primary Care Association explained that the cost of each plan relies on certain criteria: your zip code, age and whether or not you smoke. The costs of health care through ACA can be reduced depending on your income as well. Each plan includes subsidies in the way of tax credits that can be used to reduce your monthly costs. He urges individuals to visit the many nonprofits set up to help the public file for health insurance. They are better equipped to help pick out the plan that best works for your household and income. The key to reducing your health care costs starts with the application process. If you have faced a life-changing situation, such as a job loss, had a new baby, or even a divorce, you have a 60-day window to apply for ACA coverage, even after the application process is closed.

To find a nonprofit in your area, the 211 information help line can link you to a group closest to you. These groups can also help those who qualify enroll in the respective state's Medicaid program as well.

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