It’s a benefit that many of us are fortunate enough to have, as most Americans under the age of 65 have some form of health insurance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65% of people in a nationwide study had private insurance in 2016. 26.3% of participants had public insurance during the same time period. While the benefits of health insurance can vary dramatically, not having it can place a financial and emotional burden on many, especially those with health concerns.
If you happen to lose your health coverage due to the loss of a job or from nonpayment of your policy, you might be wondering what you can do. With medical costs consistently rising year after year, how does someone still receive the prescriptions or treatment they need without insurance? Let’s explore some of the options you have available to you.
Often called gap insurance but more commonly known as supplemental health insurance, it’s a type of policy that can come in handy both when you’re insured and when you no longer have primary health coverage. Many gap plans are incredibly specific, and while they can be affordable, some of them only take effect in certain instances like the occurrence of a heart attack or stroke.
Premiums are typically pretty affordable, landing somewhere in the $40 range, so if you have concerns about particular health conditions, it might be worth the money. Popular carriers of gap insurance include AIG, Aetna, and Aflac. While this type of policy is helpful as a supplement to your major medical plan, it’s also something that can get you through during a period of being uninsured as well.
Another option that is becoming more and more popular in the healthcare marketplace are short-term insurance plans. Once an option under the Affordable Care Act that could only last a limited period of time, usually 3 months at the most, new policies by the Trump administration have extended their lines of coverage. Individuals now have the option of coverage for 364 days, and with the option of extensions, could theoretically be covered for up to 36 months.
These short-term medical plans are often the light at the end of the tunnel for uninsured Americans, as they are affordable and offer customized coverage. Rather than waiting for open enrollment through Obamacare, individuals can sign up for plans quickly so there’s little gap in coverage.
Shop Around For Prices
We’ve been ingrained to think that the only way we can cover our healthcare expenses is either by having health insurance or somehow winning the lottery and affording to pay for everything in cash. However if you’ve lost your health insurance and need to still receive medical treatment or obtain prescriptions, a little ingenuity won’t hurt.
Shopping around for doctors or urgent care facilities can help your bottom line, as some practices charge completely different prices for certain visits than others. Instead of heading to the emergency room for certain injuries or illnesses, often times an urgent care office can be far cheaper. The same thought process can apply to your prescription drugs, and often times asking for a cash price can result in more savings than you previously had under your health coverage.
Payment plans can also help to soften the blow of large medical bills, and many doctor’s offices are more than willing to offer fixed payments each month without any interest associated. If you’re in a position to pay in full, inquire about cash discounts as well.
Use Savings Programs
Despite the fact that many Americans currently have health insurance, there are still millions who don’t, and the threat of losing coverage can be very real. To this end, many organizations have set up discounted programs for you to receive your much-needed medications or dental work without having to wait until your bank account is flush.
If you regularly take prescription drugs, try using a free pharmacy savings card like SingleCare to save up to 80% on your medications. By partnering with over 35,000 pharmacies such as CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens, you can start to see some real savings on your pharmacy purchases. Through SingleCare, you can save on over 50,000 FDA-approved medications, even if you no longer have insurance.
Those in need of dental work can utilize programs through Careington that are designed to save you money on everything from routine cleanings to more intensive procedures. With a large provider network and an easy to use program, it’s just another way you can help to offset the cost of not having health coverage.
Keep in mind that maintaining your health through a healthy diet and regular exercise can also go a long way toward reducing your overall out of pocket medical expenses.