Affordable health insurance for single mothers is hard to come by, especially if your employer doesn’t provide it. What are you supposed to do when your children are sick?
Being a good parent begins with looking after your children and providing them with a roof over their heads, food on their plates, and a solid education that will allow them to grow and become valuable members of society. However, being a good single mom also means looking after yourself. If you are too sick or ill to look after your family, who else can? While health insurance doesn’t prevent illness, it is certainly a solid step towards preventing a disaster.
This is why it is of the utmost importance to keep your own healthcare as a priority. You cannot be the best parent possible if you are not taking care of your own health needs. So, determine how much healthcare coverage you need and use the government website to find the plan that works with your budget.
Nearly every state has a program that ensures every child has access to affordable, reliable healthcare. This coverage is separate from Medicaid, and although you will have to submit your financial information, it is generally easier to qualify for than Medicaid. You will have to fill out an application and you may have to visit a local office to speak to a caseworker. The application process is usually very easy when compared to other government programs. If you make more than a certain amount every month, you may not qualify for free coverage, but your state may offer an option to pay. These premiums are typically very low—around $40 per month—and give you the same access as other participants in the program. Though coverage varies state-by-state, this is a great option for making sure your kids have coverage.
Insurance Plans for Single Mothers
The insurance plans available for single moms come in a range of “levels”. These include the bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and “catastrophic” plans. Essentially, the bronze will cost the least amount each month (meaning it has the lowest premium) but don’t base your choice on this.
Instead, take the time to consider how often you use healthcare (or would like to use it) every year. If you know you won’t be using the plan very often, the lower premium may be okay. The reason you have to think about this is that a lower premium means higher co-pays and higher deductibles. If you know that you have healthcare issues and will be visiting a doctor several times per year, it is best to bump up the coverage to silver or gold in order to avoid a lot of out of pocket expenses.
Remember that it is always going to be best when you take the time to evaluate your needs, but to do so realistically. Don’t think “I don’t get sick” because that is not the truth. Everyone falls ill from time to time, and you can afford to be sick when you choose the right coverage.
It is difficult enough to pay for the doctor’s appointment, but when you head to the pharmacy you will find yet another financial hurdle that you must jump. The good news is that there are prescription programs you can use to help you save some money on the rising cost of prescription medications.
The prescription drug manufacturers themselves are the ones that provide these programs. They are designed for people like you who have low incomes but are not poor enough to qualify for government aid programs. The companies offer these programs to help their public images because they can state that they provide free or discounted medication to people in need.
How can you find these programs?
The first step is to talk to your doctor. You may find that your doctor has free medication samples that you can use, saving you the hassle of contacting the pharmaceutical companies. Your doctor will also know of the programs that are currently available from the major prescription drug companies. Let your physician know your situation, and see what he suggests.
If you qualify for a program, your physician will have to apply for the program for you. These programs are often designed for those who need ongoing medications. Perhaps you need help paying for your child’s inhaler or your blood pressure medication. If so, then this is a good route to pursue. If you are looking for a discount on drugs you need temporarily, you may need to pursue other options.
Most pharmacies offer discount clubs that you can join that provide you with access to prescriptions at a discounted rate. Before joining one of these, make sure that you will not be paying more for the club membership than you will save. If you rarely need medication, this may not help.
Believe it or not, there is more than one type of Medicaid. The kind that most people think of is the type that charges no fees or premiums and provides people living below a certain income level access to healthcare. Applying for this type of coverage means visiting a local office, filling out some forms, and bringing the proper documentation of your salary and assets to your caseworker. Medicaid gives preference to pregnant women, the disabled, children, parents, and seniors. Eligibility is tied to your income level and its correlation to the national poverty level. The Affordable Care Act has expanded Medicaid eligibility requirements to cover more people. If you haven’t applied for this coverage, now is the time to start.
You might make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance. Apply for a Medicaid policy that provides coverage in exchange for a low monthly premium. In order to qualify or this coverage, your doctor must be a participating Medicaid partner. Some states have different requirements for fee-for-coverage Medicaid, so be sure to check with your local office to get all the details.
Emergency and Retroactive Medicaid
If you find that you or your child requires emergency care and you don’t have coverage, there is still a way to get medical coverage for those ER and urgent care visits. In many cases, you can fill out an application for Medicaid at the hospital, which can go a long way toward securing the best possible care at the ER. Everyone has heard horror stories about doctors refusing treatment because of a lack of insurance. You can ensure this doesn’t happen by applying at the hospital. Medicaid can also cover bills retroactively, which makes it very different from traditional health insurance. This allows you or your children’s qualified medical expenses for the three months prior to filling out the application to be covered under Medicaid.
The Affordable Care Act
While not everyone is required to purchase healthcare insurance under the Affordable Care Act, it may be worth checking out. For people who meet certain income requirements, the ACA offers subsidies that can help to pay for your coverage. These subsidies are meant to fill in the gaps for people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private healthcare insurance. The Healthcare.gov website can help you navigate your many choices.
Insurance through Employment
Not every employer offers insurance, but if yours does, you may want to consider the benefits of signing up. Employer-sponsored health care options usually include low-premium policies that are within the reach of many single moms, and you can even earn discounts for things like eating healthy, losing weight, and not smoking. If you are a part-time employee, you might want to consider having a conversation with your supervisor about what it might take to put in 30 hours every week to qualify for coverage. Remember, some employers will allow you to work full-time hours without offering full-time benefits. Check with your state’s requirements for part-time vs. full-time to see if your employer owes you permanent full-time status.
Public Health Programs
While public health programs aren’t the same as healthcare insurance, they do offer you access to free or discounted healthcare. Your city or county may offer free vaccination programs and preventative care, and many local school districts offer screenings for vision, hearing, and learning disabilities. There are also free clinics throughout the country that provides non-emergency health care to single mothers and their children. For women’s health, you should check with your state to see if there is a specific coverage program for you. Some states, including Illinois, offer free access to women’s reproductive health care, which includes access to annual exams, mammograms, prenatal care, and cancer screenings. Make sure you know which free programs are available to single moms in your area before you schedule your next doctor’s appointment.
Look for Help
It is so challenging to be a single mother in the modern world. Your list of things “to do” is endless, and in the middle of it all you are trying to be the best mom possible. Health insurance for single moms is one key part of your life, but there is so much more. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there to support you and your family.
You can find many organizations that will help with everything from food and housing to groups offering grants for you to go back to school and build your professional life. It all begins with making some solid plans and understanding what you need. Begin with the basics, and learn about all of your resources and options. There are local, state, and federal programs that offer health insurance for single moms, plus a lot more.
Remember to request that your doctor check the box for generic medications on your prescription. Many national pharmacies have discount programs that anyone can use to buy generic prescriptions. You could be paying $100 for a medication that would only cost $4 if you bought generic. By following these steps, you can cut down on the cost of your prescription medications, saving more money for you to use on your precious kids. It is best to plan ahead about your healthcare so you are always put in a position you are happy with.
Having access to affordable, quality health care does more than just keep your body healthy; it helps to give you a sense of security and can relieve stress for worried moms. There are many ways to make sure that your children have access to proper healthcare services, and several ways to make sure you can get in to see the doctor too. Ensure your health and the health of your kids by securing insurance using these seven easy-to-follow tips, and never worry about how to get a doctor to see your kids again.