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Low Income Health Insurance

There was a time in the United States when most jobs came with health insurance as part of the employment package. With changes in our economy and increased health care costs, employers are less likely to offer it among its employee benefits. The quality of the low income health insurance coverage is often less than in the past.

Today, millions of Americans are having a difficult time finding affordable health insurance. Increases in premiums are outpacing the rate of inflation. Even reasonable group prices are out of reach for many.

State Assisted Health Insurance

Among the millions of Americans who are uninsured, many find themselves in this unfortunate situation because health insurance is unaffordable. For some, the federal Medicaid program administered by the states will be the best option for low income families. However, low income is not the only eligibility factor for Medicaid and the applicant must be in an eligibility category to receive Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides information regarding categories of eligibility.

The Medicaid program has a waiver process by which states can propose changes to the way they administer the Medicaid program. Massachusetts for example has applied for and received approval for a waiver so that the state will get critical funding needed to implement its landmark health care reform law. The law mandates that everyone shall be required to have health insurance just as everyone has been required to have car insurance for many years. Under the waiver process, states have been finding ways to expand the Medicaid program thus providing low income medical insurance for individuals and families who otherwise would not have coverage.

Health insurance coverage for low income families with children is also available. In 1997, Congress passed legislation creating the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for those families with incomes too high to qualify for the Medicaid program. All states now have SCHIP programs for low income families with children. The income eligibility guidelines vary according to the state and subsidies taper off as incomes rise to three times the poverty line.

The government provides subsidies to those in need by helping people buy health insurance. Providing low income health insurance for families is the right thing to do and it makes sense. People with no insurance get sick sometimes and many end up going to emergency rooms and getting free health care there because any hospital receiving federal funds cannot refuse treatment.

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