What Should You Do If You Can't Afford Health Insurance?


Quick Answer

Those unable to afford to pay for health insurance should apply for health coverage through Medicaid, reports HealthCare.gov. Although the income cutoffs to qualify for Medicaid vary from state to state, the national maximum eligibility level is 133 percent of the federal poverty level as of 2015, states Medicaid.gov.

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Full Answer

Those without health insurance can apply for Medicaid either through the Health Insurance Marketplace or directly to a state Medicaid agency, according to Healthcare.gov. Although the Health Insurance Marketplace is only open for applications during designated enrollment periods, state Medicaid offices accept applications year-round. Eligibility factors in all states include age, disabilities, the size of the household and income. Additionally, Medicaid recipients must be U.S. citizens or of eligible immigrant status.

Some states cover only mandatory eligibility groups that include seniors, the disabled, pregnant women, parents and children, reports Medicaid.gov. Other states have expanded coverage that includes all individuals and families meeting the income and household size requirements. Although adults may have incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, their children may still qualify for the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, according to Healthcare.gov. Those who apply for Medicaid also learn if their children qualify for CHIP. Coverage begins immediately for applicants accepted into Medicaid and CHIP programs.

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