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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

How to Find Low-Cost Health Insurance: FAQ

If you're having trouble finding health insurance you can afford, you'll find more options starting in 2014. That's when many new parts of the Affordable Care Act take effect.

Here are some common questions people have about finding low-cost health insurance.

I'm a 23-year-old college grad and I'd like to get back on my parents' health coverage until I find a job with benefits. How do I do this?

To get started, contact your parents' insurance company to make sure it offers coverage for dependents.

If it does, then the insurance plan has to accept you until you're 26. You're eligible even if you live away from home or you're married.

Next, find out when you can enroll. You may have to wait for a special enrollment period.

Keep in mind that you going on your parents' insurance won't be free. If the plan only covers your parent -- or a parent and spouse -- expect the monthly insurance cost to go up when you join.

Some health plans may not accept you now if you can get group coverage elsewhere, such as through a job. That will no longer be true after January 2014.

I buy my own insurance and have trouble paying for it. Will it be more affordable starting in 2014?

Most likely. Starting in 2014 you may be able to get tax credits to help you buy insurance. To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a citizen or legal resident.
  • Buy your coverage through your state's new health insurance Marketplace, also called an Exchange.
  • Make about $11,490 to $45,960 a year if you are single or $23,550 to $94,200 a year if you are in a family of four.

If you make less than the lowest amount, you may be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid will cost you less than you'd save with a tax credit.  

Unfortunately, if your state is not expanding Medicaid based on the guidelines in the Affordable Care Act, you may not be able to enroll in Medicaid or be able to get a tax credit. It's possible that if you make less than $11,490 in 2013, which is the poverty level, you may not qualify for Medicaid if you live in a state that isn't expanding Medicaid.

In general, you're not eligible for the tax credits if you could get coverage through a workplace. However, the coverage offered by your employer must be considered affordable. If your company offers a plan that costs more than 9.5% of your income, or that does not cover at least 60% of the cost of covered benefits, you can look for a more affordable plan through your state's Marketplace and may receive tax credits to lower your costs.

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