Healthcare Business DEMYSTIFIED

de mys ti fy - to make less mysterious, clarify

What are my alternatives if I can't afford health insurance?

If you find that you cannot afford to purchase health insurance, you do have some alternatives that you can explore. 

Start by examining your situation.  Are you unable to work because of an injury that has left you disabled?  If that fits your situation, you may be able to get help through the disability program.  You can get more information by going to ssa.gov/disability/

Medicaid is a program that assists low income individuals and families.  It is a program that is administered through each state so you will have to seek information that is specific to the state you live in.  Start by going to the medicaid.gov website to get connected with the specific program in your state.  There is also an additional program specific to children called S-CHIP (State-Children's Health Insurance Program).  The criteria for coverage is different for children and it is possible that the children of parents who work may still qualify for the program.  Don't immediately dismiss such programs if you are employed - children may still qualify.  More information about CHIP can be found at the medicaid.gov website.

Starting in 2015, a new tier of health insurance will be available.  It is specifically designed to serve those individuals who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but find that the least expensive plan in the Health Insurance Marketplace is cost prohibitive.  The program is called the Basic Health Program (BHP) and will be available through individual states, like Medicaid and CHIP.  More information on this new program can be found at medicaid.gov.

If you find yourself without health insurance and have an emergency that requires hospitalization, please be aware that many non-profit hospitals have indigent medicine programs.  They do not publicize these programs very much, but if you inquire about them, they should be available.  They are based on poverty levels and you will have to provide tax returns or other documentation to receive a discount.  Depending on your financial situation, your discount can be substantial.  By substantial, I have seen up to 90% forgiveness on an outstanding balance.