Healthcare spending exceeded $10,000 per person in 2016, and appears to be a continuing problem for the foreseeable future. If you’ve lost your job, or haven’t recovered wages from previous job losses, or even if you’ve changed careers to try and make ends meet, you may be feeling economic strain thanks to healthcare mandates and rising costs for prescription drugs.
The first step to take is to begin on the Web, where you’ll find resources and tools to see what assistance you qualify for during your time of need. As a tax payer, your resources go into a variety of programs designed to help people going through a rough time. Here are some ideas on where to get started, how to keep healthy and how to manage costs during this difficult time.
Apply for Benefits
First, look into the various state programs you may be eligible for. A few of the more notable ones have extensive resources online. For instance, California makes it very easy to check Medi-Cal eligibility online with a few questions that look at income level and family status.
Remember too that almost every state runs some kind of resource for senior citizens to find medical care. If you’re caring for an elder and dealing with absorbing some of those costs, your State Health Insurance Assistance Program can help provide some additional care and some help to try and pay for the various needs you or your family member has.
Whether your state has or has not expanded Medicaid, it’s worth it to see what you may qualify for when you need it. As there is no period of limited enrollment, you may begin applying as soon as you can. Also, don’t forget about COBRA, which gives you the right to continue with your current insurance provided you are able to pay the premiums for that coverage.
Utilize Community Health Centers
Another option many have as states expanded under Obamacare is to seek help from community institutions. Local clinics often offer prenatal care, birth control, various immunizations and general preventative care for a low cost to the community.
You can locate clinics near you by searching online through the Healthcare.gov website.
Community health centers also deal with potentially serious diseases and problems, such as HIV/AIDS or substance abuse problems in the community. These centers help parents with children get the vaccines needed to enter school when insurance isn’t available as well.
Do You Qualify for Exemptions?
If you qualify for an exemption to the healthcare mandate, and you lose your coverage for a short or extended period of time, you become exempt from the fees you would normally be required to pay as part of the Affordable Care Act. Exemptions are available for many circumstances, such as the cost of a plan exceeding a certain percentage of your income, or maybe you only had a brief gap of two months between finding work.
These exemptions are filed with your federal taxes, so it can be helpful to consult a tax professional each year. They may also assist you in finding additional tax breaks related to healthcare spending that could save additional money at the end of the year.
Healthcare is growing quite expensive year over year, so one can feel a great deal of stress over losing coverage. Understand more about exemptions related to that coverage loss, and take advantage of preventative care measures now. Keeping yourself healthy will reduce costs you’ll pay later on, even with better coverage. Reviewing specific programs offered by state, especially for senior and handicapped individuals is a great way to find some additional financial assistance to take advantage of.
Finally, don’t forget about the power of a Health Savings Account, which is tax exempt and allows for you to pay certain medical expenses you’ll incur in the future with money you save today. This is a powerful tool in remaining financially independent when you’re dealing with sudden job loss or a downturn.
How do you handle your healthcare costs?
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