6 Health Insurance Options for 2018
Here, I list the six options that I've found for health insurance in 2018 if you're not already part of a group health insurance plan. Spoiler alert: they're not all good options.
Hey there folks! If you're like me and you're not a part of a group health insurance plan for 2018, you may have recently experienced some sticker-shock (again) when you saw your premiums increase. Individual health insurance has experienced another jump in costs this year, so I went looking for all the healthcare options that were available.
This may not be an exhaustive list of options, so please let me know if there are other solutions out there. I'd love to pass that along to others (as well as check it out for myself).
Option 1: Healthcare.gov
The ACA health insurance marketplace through Healthcare.gov should be your starting point if you're looking for an individual health insurance policy. You can pick from the different insurers and plans and compare premiums / coverage. Unfortunately, many insurance carriers have left the marketplace for multiple reasons. You're guaranteed coverage through the marketplace, even if you have a pre-existing condition.
Option 2: Look for an individual health insurance policy
I used eHealthInsurance.com to shop and compare individual health insurance plans in my state. Unfortunately for me in Georgia, the plans I found were the the exact same as those I found on the ACA healthcare exchange. Some states (or areas of states) may be different, so I encourage you to check this site out and see what's available in your area. Going directly to the health insurance companies' websites is an option too.
Option 3: Pay the ACA penalty + buy critical illness insurance
As of right now, if you don't buy an ACA compliant health insurance plan, you will be assessed a penalty. This penalty could range from $695 to over $13,100 (depending on your income)! In some cases the penalty may be low enough that, when combined with critical illness insurance, there could potentially be some cost savings there.
Note that I don't think this is a good option by any means. However it is an option. With this option, you would be paying 100% out-of-pocket if you were to come down with the flu or break your arm. However, any serious medical conditions would be covered by the critical illness plan (up to the limitations of the policy). As with any health insurance policy, the details of the coverage is crucial!
However, if you're healthy and don't mind paying out-of-pocket for minor medical stuff, it may work out.
NOTE: I'VE HEARD SOME FOLKS SAY THAT THE IRS HAS BEEN INSTRUCTED TO NOT ENFORCE THE PENALTIES FOR 2018. I HAVE HEARD DIFFERENTLY FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES. EXPECT TO PAY IT.
Option 4: Pay the ACA penalty + buy a short-term health insurance policy
So, Option 4 is similar to Option 3, but instead of critical illness insurance, you buy a short-term health insurance policy. A short-term policy works just like your normal health insurance policy, but only lasts up to 90 days. So, you could potentially renew your policy every 90 days or so, depending on premiums and penalties you pay.
What is different about short-term policies is that they require that you answer some health questions before you can buy a policy. This kind of loose underwriting can be a potential problem if you become sick and need to renew after 90s. There's a chance you could be denied!
Like Option 3, Option 4 is not a good alternative.
Option 5: Establish a group health insurance plan if you're a business owner
If you own your own business (and have more than 1 employees), then you're eligible to create a group plan for your business. This could potentially save you (and your employees) a ton of money in insurance premiums. It can also become a benefit that will help you attract and retain top employees for your business.
Unfortunately, one-person businesses are not eligible to start a group plan!
Option 6: Medi-Share
Medi-Share is a group health care expense sharing community. It was started as a non-profit to allow Christians to have an alternative to the other existing health insurance options out there. The interesting thing about Medi-Share is that it's ACA compliant. That means, you can avoid the ACA mandate penalty if you join Medi-Share.
How it works is that you pay a monthly premium, determined by your age, health and the number of people in your household. As you have expenses, Medi-Share pay some (if not all) of those expenses.
For me, it was more expensive than the Healthcare.gov marketplace plans, but it might be a fit for you if you have a family and you're a Christian.
If you're not a Christian and your health insurance premium increases haven't made you find the Lord, then this may not be a good plan for you!
Here's a video from the Medi-Share site. I wouldn't be surprised if there are more of these types of affinity programs that pop up in the coming years.
Why is it so much more expensive?
The increase in healthcare and health insurance is a numbers problem. Adverse selection seems to be the big factor these days. There are plenty of other factors including how Medicare benchmarks average costs and political pressures.
What to do
Your situation is unique and some of these options will most likely not be right for you. Talk with your financial planner your options for health insurance.