Nearly 800,000 Missouri residents have no health insurance. That means 16 percent of the state’s population must pay out of pocket for emergency services, doctor visits, treatments and diagnostics. CNBC reports that medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. each year. You can avoid the financial disaster of a medical crisis by getting quotes for an affordable medical insurance policy.
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Did You Know?
- Under the new Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA), some individuals qualify for tax credits when they purchase health insurance through the exchange.
- Families with incomes between 100 and 250% of the poverty level can qualify for subsidized premiums. Children in this bracket may also qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.
- While some states opted to create a statewide healthcare exchange, MO opted to use the federal exchange.
- MO state law requires that all Navigators, or AHA advisers, be licensed before they are allowed to help you sign up for coverage.
- As of January 2014, due to healthcare law changes, your health insurance plan must cover preexisting conditions.
- You must sign up by March 2014 to avoid a tax penalty for being uninsured.
- Even if your employer offers a group health insurance plan, it may be less expensive for you to purchase coverage through an independent agent.
Which Plan Is Right for You?
Many factors affect your choice of a medical plan. Some of these include the following:
- Your income
- Your employer
- The size of your family and whether you plan to have more children
- Your current age, health and chronic illnesses
- Your children's ages
- Your ability to set aside savings for the future
- Your choice of doctors and specialists
The company where you work, or your trade association if you are self-employed, may offer group medical insurance plans at a discounted rate. This may or may not include coverage for your spouse and children. Even if you can purchase group health insurance, it is often less expensive to work with a local independent agent who has access to a variety of insurance companies, and can find the most affordable and most suitable plan for you.
Another option open to you under the Affordable Care Act is the use of a Health Savings Account, or HSA, instead of a traditional health insurance plan. This is a tax-deductible savings account for medical expenses with a tax deduction limited to $3250 for an individual or $6450 for a family. You commit to contribute a certain amount each month or year, and use the money to pay for hospital and doctor bills. You must pay any expenses beyond the tax deduction amount of your HSA out of pocket. If you have funds left in your account at the end of the year, the balance rolls over into the next year’s account.
Types of Health Insurance
Missouri residents have many health insurance options available through the federal exchange and through private insurers and co-ops. The following are a few of the most popular types of health insurance plans:
- HMO, or Health Maintenance Organization: With an HMO, you choose a doctor from a network of listed providers. That doctor must be the one to recommend future referrals and treatments. If you rely on a certain physician or specialist not listed on the network or if you require the ability to consult many different kinds of practitioners, an HMO is probably not the plan for you. HMOs tend to be very affordable options for those who are flexible in their choice of doctor and hospital.
- PPO, or Preferred Provider Organization: A PPO lets you choose your physician from within the network. You can also see other providers outside the PPO network but at a higher share of cost than with an in-network provider. This affords much more flexibility and is a great option for those who need care from specialists or teams of physicians who are outside the network.
- POS, or Point of Service Plan: This is the best of the HMO and PPO plans, as it lets you choose an in-network doctor to make referrals but also allows you to see specialists on your own. You may need to pay out of pocket or pay a higher share of the cost when you visit specialists not referred by your primary doctor.
- Catastrophic: These plans offer low premiums in exchange for a high share of the cost, and a very high deductible to pay before coverage starts. Catastrophic plans provide emergency coverage to prevent a catastrophic, or bankruptcy-inducing, medical debt. If you have savings ready for such situations and you can afford to pay for your own check-ups, and are in good health, this can be a great way to save money on insurance premiums.
- Indemnity: This form of insurance requires that you pay for your doctor visits and treatments up front. After the fact, your insurance reimburses you for approved procedures up to a certain percentage, such as 80% of costs. This can be a good option for those with enough cash on hand to cover surgeries, emergency care and wellness visits.
How Do You Purchase Health Insurance?
- Option 1: Buy into a group medical insurance plan through your employer, professional association, credit union or religious organization. Open enrollment generally takes place at the end or beginning of the year, so check with the organization website or human resources to find out when to sign up. You will likely get a discount with a group plan, but it is still in your best interest to check with an independent agent for a better deal.
- Option 2: Purchase a plan on the federal exchange. Missouri requires state licensing for all Navigators before they can help you shop for a plan, so reliable help is probably available in the nearest town. There were many problems with the federal exchange website in the beginning, but since then, tens of thousands of state residents have successfully purchased coverage.
- Option 3: Shop the market with a local independent agent. A captive insurance agent offers only the products sold by one company, but an independent agent can source hundreds of providers and plans to find you the best price on the coverage that fits your family. A local agent may be able to find a better plan than the group coverage you receive through your employer.
Find Health Insurance Quotes the Easy Way
It can be difficult to navigate the new healthcare laws and markets. But with the right help, you can get answers easily and quickly from someone who has experience in the insurance industry. You can speak with an independent agent in the Trusted Choice® network regarding your family, health and budget. After that, a local agent can show you an array of customized quotes and Missouri health insurance plans that fit.
Contact a local agent to get the health coverage your family needs.