What is Free Health Coverage?
Free health coverage is the ability to access medical care at no cost. This type of coverage is available to certain individuals who meet income guidelines. Typically, free health coverage is available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid.
In most cases, those seeking free health coverage must fill out an application in order to enroll in health insurance at no cost. Your income level and family size are two of the most important factors in deciding whether or not you qualify. If your income level is too high, you may qualify for a low-cost health plan or a sliding-scale based health plan.
Also, if your income is too high for you to qualify, your children may still be able to access free healthcare through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
At Freeway Insurance, we know that navigating health insurance can be complicated. Our bilingual and skilled healthcare agents are here to help you make the best choices for you and your family.
How Do I Get Free or Low-Cost Health Care?
You may qualify for free or low-cost care through Medicaid or the ACA health insurance marketplace, based on income and family size. The marketplace provides subsidies for those who qualify to help pay for health insurance. When you apply for health coverage at the online marketplace, your application may be routed to Medicaid, which offers free health insurance to those who qualify.
The ACA health care law provides states with additional federal funding to expand their Medicaid programs to cover adults under 65 who make up to 133% of the federal poverty level. Children (18 and under) are eligible up to that income level or higher in all states.
How Do I Get Free Health Insurance for My Kids?
If you qualify for Medicaid, it will also provide free health care for your children. If your income level is too high for Medicaid but you still cannot afford private health insurance, your children may still be eligible for CHIP.
Can I Get Free Health Insurance Through Obamacare?
Yes, if you and your family qualify for Medicaid or CHIP. In many states, when you enroll in health insurance through the ACA marketplace, your application will route to your state’s Medicaid administrative office if you meet the income guidelines.
Other alternatives to receiving free health coverage include:
- An ACA subsidy. The ACA marketplace offers generous cost-assistance subsidies for those who make too much for Medicaid, but not enough to pay for health insurance on their own. In some cases, these subsidies may take your payment down to close to nothing.
- Local charities and public hospital emergency rooms. Some states did not expand Medicaid for low-income single adults. If you live in one of these states, you may find help at local charities and you can make use of public hospital’s emergency rooms in a life-or-death emergency.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I was able to find affordable health insurance for my family that fits our budget and provides us with the coverage we need.”
How to Enroll in Medicaid
Since every state has its own guidelines for eligibility, you will need to check with your state’s Medicaid agency for qualification. Once you find your state, click on the link and it will take you to the appropriate page for Medicaid applications where you live. Alternatively, in some states, you can apply through the Obamacare marketplace. Your application may be automatically forwarded to the suitable Medicaid office if you qualify. Here are two ways to enroll in Medicaid:
- Follow the link to check with your state’s Medicaid agency.
- Begin an account with the Health Insurance Marketplace to fill out an application. If you qualify, your information will be routed to your state’s Medicaid agency.
Remember, even if you do not qualify, your children may still be eligible for free medical care through CHIP.
Steps to Enroll in Medicaid
Every state is different, so you’ll want to be sure and apply with your state. You must reside in a state to receive benefits there. In most states, you can apply online, in person, by email, regular mail or phone. As an example, here are the steps to apply for Medicaid in California (Medi-Cal):
- Call your local county office or apply online or in person. You’ll be able to find your local California office by following this link. Follow this link to find offices in other states.
- You will need social security numbers for U.S. citizens and document status for immigrants; employer and income for all applicants, federal tax information and other forms of health insurance anyone receives.
Is There a Timeline I Have to Follow to Apply for Free Healthcare?
No. You can apply for Medicaid and CHIP at any time during the year. Although the Medicaid program is overseen by the federal government, states administer their own plans. You can apply through your state Medicaid division. If you are approved, your coverage will begin immediately.
Are There Special Groups Who Qualify for Medicaid?
Yes. Besides low-income families and individuals, Medicaid may extend to children and qualified pregnant women, as well as individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is for those over the age of 65, and people, including children, who are blind or who have disabilities who have limited income and few resources.