Money Conversations: Still Uninsured and Unaware? There is No More Excuse
Many people rely on their employers to provide health insurance as part of the benefit package. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization focusing on national health issues, about 49% of Americans are insured through employer-sponsored plans. Yet we do not live in a uniform world: some people work for private companies who do not offer insurance plans, others can only work part-time, and some are self-employed. What happens then? A lot of these people shrug their shoulders unaware that there are other options available to obtain healthcare; and those who are aware of these options often find the prospect of shopping for healthcare a bit daunting. Let’s face it: medical insurance is not exactly an easy or exciting topic to navigate through.
To gain a better understanding of the possibilities in this field, I interviewed an expert on this subject. Mark Perkins is the director of Novel Financial Solutions located in Ridgeland, MS. He has been in the business of insuring people for over 18 years and has done “just about everything under health and life insurance realm” as he puts it in his own words.
“When people come to us for help, the first thing we try to do is look for exchange plans under Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare,” – says Mark. Affordable Care Act provides tax credits that can cover insurance payments. There is hardly anything this type of insurance would not cover; most of these plans include preventive care, pregnancies, rehab services, medications, etc. Qualification is based on the household income which has to fall between 100% and 400% of the poverty level as outlined by the federal guidelines. So there are minimums to qualify. Those at the 100% mark might qualify for as low as $0 premium and $0 copay. As the income goes up, the deductibles and premiums go up as well.
Those families whose income is too high to qualify for Affordable Care Act can still purchase private insurance and have plenty of alternatives. In their case, everything depends on their personal goals, explains Mark. Whether they want to cover just catastrophic events or have more detailed care, there are options for just about anything. Besides regular medical plans, there are also options such as short-term medical plans, supplemental plans, hospital policies, etc. so it is possible to accommodate all kinds of scenarios. Mark believes that “this industry is really not “one size fits all.” Each family is unique and deserves individual approach.”
To apply for insurance you can start by filling out an application through a website called Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov. Usually the open enrollment is November 1 – December 15. However, this year due to Covid-19 pandemic, it has been re-opened and extended through August 15. Once the application is complete and it is determined that you qualify for ACA, you would be directed further to shop for a healthcare plan. If you or any members of your family qualify for a state-sponsored Medicaid coverage, you would also be notified and your information would be automatically forwarded to the State Division of Medicaid which will, in turn, contact you directly. Mississippi Division of Medicaid provides insurance coverage for infants, children, pregnant women and disabled individuals with income under a certain limit. Their website is www.medicaid.ms.gov where you could also apply directly.
You can apply yourself or you can find a qualified insurance agent instead to help you through the process. Agents do not charge customers for their services as they receive administrative fees from the government to help their clients. Mark says he was even able to help some families whose employers were offering family coverage, but the premiums were too high to afford.
Your health is in your hands, and in the 21st century your healthcare is literally at your fingertips. Hope you get insurance and stay healthy, so you’ll never need it.