Health insurance alternatives.
There are alternatives available to expensive health insurance policies and their monthly premiums. Anyone who is thinking of using one or more of these resources needs to factor in a wide range of scenarios. Families should understand the potential impact to their household budget, any risks that may be involved in accessing care, and much more. Each and every person needs to look at their own financial and family situation before they decide to use one of these health insurance insurance plan alternatives.
There will be terms and conditions that need to be met to each one of these options. Some of them will only provide medical or dental care to very low income families. Others help people of certain religions, such as the Christian Healthcare ministries. So before deciding to go without health insurance, and before depending on one of these alternatives for care, anyone who is interested should conduct extensive due diligence.
Charity health care plans
Low income families, the poor, and individuals living in poverty can often use a local community clinic as an alternative. Some of these health centers may also support more moderate income families and just bill them on a sliding fee scale.
Now one of the downsides of using a clinic may be the need to wait for the medical care. Many health insurance policies cover emergency room care, and the vast majority of charitable community clinics do not offer urgent services. They also only take care of more basic medical needs, and if the patient has a complicated condition a clinic will not often accommodate that.
Another con to using a community health care center as an alternative to a regular health insurance policy is the limit to the quality of care. They often rely on volunteers, including doctors, optometrists, nurses, and dentists among others, and the staffing levels of these professionals will not be as high. So while health insurance plans allow the family to select their own doctor and/or medical provider, community clinics do not.
There are different types of free community clinics to try. One will focus on dental needs, and the other is on more general medical care clinics. Both types can be free in some cases and they can serve as alternatives to a health insurance plan.
Non-standard health insurance plans as an alternative
Catastrophic health insurance policies can also serve as an alternative. The federal government does regulate this type of policy as well. Generally it is effective at covering younger people (under the age of 30 or so) or it can cover families that are faced with a hardship. The reason for selecting this type of coverage is the much more affordable monthly premiums.
A downside of using a catastrophic health insurance policy instead of a more standard plan is the very high deductibles as well as limits to the coverage. The terms and conditions should be reviewed very closely to see what is or isn't covered. The applicant should also be aware of the high deductibles for this type of policy, and strongly consider the impact of what would happen if they needed to pay that. If help is needed, then find high deductible assistance programs.
Health care sharing plans can also serve as an alternative. These are not exactly insurance products but rather involve a group of people paying into a service which “pools” their money together to help the less fortunate. Then, if and when someone gets sick (and if they made their contributions on time), they can receive help from these “pools of funds”. This is where the sharing concept comes into plan. That money can pay for bills, medications, and other medical needs. The most common of this type of health insurance alternative is Christian health care ministries but they do have a religious requirement.
Discount card, vouchers, and Health Saving Accounts (HSA) can all be used to reduce the cost of medical bills as well as prescription drugs. Now non of these are health insurance policies, or even claim to be anywhere near that. Rather they serve as an alternative in that they can reduce a family's expenses, both out of pocket costs and premiums.
Most of these plans are free to sign up for, and there are usually no income prescriptions or other requirements. The savings can vary widely depending on the program, but some of the examples of these health insurance alternatives include the following.
- Patient Assistance programs can provide free medications to a low to moderate income patient. Read more.
- Some companies, including NACO, offer discount cards.
- There are coupons for prescription drugs, and these are readily available; even on the internet.
- HSA will give a tax deduction on medical usage at tax time.
- Other options include free eyeglass vouchers, equipment for medical needs, hearing aids, and many others.
Government health insurance plan alternatives
States often have some type of government medical care for the uninsured. These are often available to the indigent though that have no other resources available to them. This means that the family can't be able to afford a standard health insurance policy, they need to be unable to pay the medical bills for their care or medications, and more.
Also many of the state programs focus on the at-risk population. This may include a senior citizen, young child, or a disabled person. Before relying on a government program as a health insurance alternative be sure to look into all of the terms and conditions.
There are also of course other public benefit programs that can serve as an alternative. Similar to above in that these generally only give health insurance to the very low income, elderly, blind, disabled, and households in poverty. Some will cover pre-existing conditions as well. The most common resources include Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare. Find a listing of public assistance.