Healthcare expenses can be one of the most costly financial burdens that Americans face every month. Healthcare in the United State is increasingly expensive, and it can be a headache to navigate the healthcare system. For some citizens, healthcare costs can even overshadow rental and housing costs. Fortunately, several government programs can reduce the cost of health insurance and provide opportunities for affordable healthcare.
In 2010, President Obama passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to make sweeping changes across the American healthcare system. The bill was designed to help increase the accessibility and affordability of healthcare for millions of Americans. Because of this act, individuals that earned between $12,760 and $51,040 became eligible for healthcare subsidies to reduce the cost of insurance premiums.
Generally, individuals and families qualify for a premium subsidy if their household income is 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. But the income limits are higher in Alaska and Hawaii because the poverty guidelines are higher in those states.
However, the American Rescue Plan suspended income limitations for ACA from 2021 through 2025 to combat the economic hardship brought on by the global pandemic.
In addition to the ACA, several government programs can reduce or eliminate the cost of health insurance for qualifying Americans.
Medicare is the largest federally-sponsored health insurance plan for older adults and disabled persons. The program is divided into four parts, each of which covers specific medical coverage:
- Medicare Part A: Hospital insurance with some limited homecare services.
- Medicare Part B: Outpatient services and visits with a physician.
- Medicare Part C: Also called Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part C combines the benefits of Medicare Part A and Part B and may include additional coverage benefits.
- Medicare Part D: Prescription drug coverage.
Medicare is not an income-based program. However, low-income recipients may qualify for lower premiums through some parts of Medicare and may also qualify for Medicaid to help cover the cost of their insurance.
Another substantial government healthcare program is Medicaid. Medicaid is a government assistance program that provides low-income families and individuals with little-to-no-cost health insurance. Coverage and eligibility requirements can vary between states. However, coverage does include government-mandated services, such as x-rays, physician visits, and preventative care.
Children whose families do not qualify for Medicaid may still qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP provides health insurance coverage similar to that of Medicaid. While still an income-based government program, income guidelines are higher than that of Medicaid. Additionally, eligibility requirements can vary, but typically children must not have access to another form of healthcare and must be U.S. citizens or have qualifying immigration statuses.
Additional government grants are available for military service members, veterans, and their families. Click on the next slide to learn more about these federal grant opportunities.