This article was provided by H&R Block and H&R Block Dollars & Sense. Salt® has teamed up with these organizations to help students and alums take control of tricky financial topics—like finding health insurance.
Starting in 2014, people who did not have health insurance coverage throughout the year could be subject to a penalty. Maintaining coverage can be tough—especially if you are still in college or recently graduated.
Luckily, there's good news: You likely have several options for getting affordable coverage that will let you meet this requirement. Here are four options to look into.
1. Use Your Parents' Insurance
Nowadays, "26" is a pretty magical number when it comes to health insurance.
That's because as long as you are under age 26, an insurance company must allow you to join or remain on your parents' healthcare plan—regardless of your personal situation. (You could be married, living with your parents, attending school, or even eligible to enroll in other group coverage and still qualify.)
So, if your parents' health insurance plan currently covers you, it must continue to offer you coverage until you turn 26. And, if you are not currently on your parents' plan, but that plan offers coverage to dependent children, you must be allowed to join it if you are under the age of 26.
If you fall into this category, talk to your parents to understand your options.
2. Receive Coverage From Your Employer
This one's simple: If you receive health insurance through your employer, you meet the requirement to maintain coverage. Just make sure you continue to enroll in coverage each year.
3. Look Into Medicaid
If you do not have coverage through a parent or an employer, you may have access to affordable coverage through expanded Medicaid, depending on your income and state of residence.
The Affordable Care Act (which requires you to have healthcare coverage) expanded Medicaid eligibility to adults over the age of 18 with a household income of 138% of the federal poverty level or below. For a single individual with no children, this is roughly $16,643. However states do not have to participate in Medicaid expansion, so not all states expanded their programs. In non-expanded Medicaid states, eligibility requirements and income thresholds may be much lower.
For further information on whether you qualify for your state's Medicaid program, contact your state's Medicaid administrative agency. (You can also find this information in the health insurance marketplace; see below for more details.)
4. Visit The Health Insurance Marketplace
The marketplace (aka HealthCare.gov) lets individuals find and apply for health insurance coverage that matches up with their needs and budgets. While the open enrollment period ended January 31, 2017, you may qualify for a special enrollment period.
If you purchase a plan through HealthCare.gov, you may qualify for an advanced tax credit to help you pay its premiums (provided you are not eligible for Medicaid). The easiest way to determine your eligibility is to submit an application for health insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov. If you're eligible, the marketplace will calculate the amount for you and pay it directly to your insurance company.
Generally, this credit is available to those with household incomes between 138% and 400% of the federal poverty level (or generally between 100% and 400%, if you live in a state that did not expand Medicaid). For a single individual with no children, this would be between approximately $16,395 and $47,520 ($11,880 and $47,520 in non-expanded Medicaid states).