In South Carolina you’re going to be seeing and hearing a lot about zero premium health insurance plans.
Is free health insurance real?
Yes… and no. Of course health insurance is not free – it’s actually really expensive! (Many of our clients are painfully aware of this reality…)
So why is BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina marketing zero premium plans? It all has to do with Obamacare. A key provision of the Affordable Care Act is the provision that makes subsidies available to lower the monthly premium for people who qualify based on their income and household size.
To qualify for a subsidy:
- Your household income must be between 100-400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
- You cannot be eligible for coverage on an employer-sponsored plan
The subsidies, called “Premium Tax Credits,” are on a sliding scale based on income (the more you make, the less your subsidy amount). The actual amount of the subsidy is a complicated calculation that we won’t bore you with here.
How is free health insurance possible?
When you enroll in a Marketplace plan, whatever subsidy you are eligible for is deducted from the premium you pay. In reality, the federal government is paying that subsidy amount to the health insurance company each month. Any remaining cost (i.e. the amount not covered by the subsidy) is your responsibility.
So, if you are eligible for a subsidy amount that is equal to or greater than the cost of the plan you select, you will pay nothing for the plan.
So, from your vantage point… that’s free health insurance for you!
And BlueCross BlueShield has decided to price some of their plans in such a way that a lot of people will owe zero premium to get covered.
Who can get a free health insurance plan?
Obviously not everyone will qualify for this much subsidy. But you might be surprised by how many people do.
Remember, one of the factors that determines your subsidy eligibility (and the amount) is the size of your household. So a family of 4 or 5 with a middle-class income may very well be able to find a zero premium plan.
There are so many variables and moving parts here that we can’t give you a definitive income level at which you’ll qualify for such a plan. You really will just have to check once Open Enrollment begins on November 1. Click the button to check:
What kind of free health insurance plan are we talking about?
Obviously we’re not talking about a gold-level plan here.
The plans you might get for free are bronze level plans, so the deductible and out-of-pocket max will be high. But you will be able to get first-dollar benefits like a decent office visit copay on a plan called Bronze 4 (this was very popular with our clients in 2018 as well). So you get good catastrophic protection and first dollar benefits you’ll actually use.
And, well, you can’t beat the price! Find out more by clicking the button or contacting us: