Do You Qualify for Catastrophic Health Insurance?

Only certain people are eligible to buy catastrophic health insurance. Are you?. Image © Dimitri Otis/Stone collection/Getty Images

It used to be that anyone willing to take the risk of limited coverage and a huge deductible could buy a catastrophic health plan. It’s not so any more.

The Affordable Care Act limits the sale of catastrophic health plans to a small group of eligible people. The rest of us aren’t allowed to buy catastrophic health insurance plans.

Who qualifies for a catastrophic health plan?

To be eligible for catastrophic health insurance, you must meet one of the following:

  1. Be less than 30 years old.
  2. Have a hardship exemption from paying the shared responsibility penalty for not having health insurance.

If you’re interested in a family catastrophic plan, each member of the family must be eligible for a catastrophic health plan.

I’m Over 29 and I Want a Catastrophic Plan. How Do I Get a Hardship Exemption?

You can apply for a hardship exemption from your state’s health insurance exchange. However, the exchange will only grant you the hardship exemption if you meet specific criteria. Learn more about those criteria in “How To Get a Hardship Exemption From Health Insurance.”

What If I Don’t Qualify for a Catastrophic Plan But I Can’t Afford Regular Health Insurance?

If you have a low or moderate income, you might be eligible for a government subsidy to help you pay for health insurance. Learn more in “Can I Get Help Paying for Health Insurance?

Don’t qualify for a health insurance subsidy?

Consider a high deductible health plan, otherwise known as an HDHP. These plans have a deductible that’s higher than most other plans, but are designed to be paired with a tax-advantaged health savings account. Because of the high deductible, the monthly premiums can be lower than premiums for other types of health insurance.

Because they’re paired with an HSA, you’ll also save money by paying for your deductible and other medical expenses with tax-advantaged funds.

Many health insurance exchanges offer at least one HDHP. HDHPs that will satisfy the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to carry health insurance coverage are also available off-exchange through health insurance brokers or directly from health insurance companies.

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