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How You Can Get Nearly Free Health Insurance Without Being on Medicaid

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How You Can Get Nearly Free Health Insurance Without Being on Medicaid

Colleen McGuire

Updated: March 22, 2017    Published: September 29, 2014

In 2014, 28 states including the District of Columbia expanded Medicaid to adults under age 65. In states where Medicaid expanded under the Affordable Care Act, those who make up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level—which ends up being 138 percent due to how eligibility is calculated—may qualify for free or low-cost health insurance through Medicaid.But what if you do not live in a state where Medicaid was expanded? Or what if you make slightly more than the qualification threshold? Paying hundreds of dollars a month in health insurance premiums is unrealistic for many individuals—across all metal levels, the average monthly premium for federally facilitated exchange plans was $346 (before tax credits) in 2014.[1]

If you buy health insurance from your state’s exchange, you might wind up paying just a few dollars a month for coverage thanks to the premium tax credits available to those who 1) buy from state-based and federally facilitated health insurance exchanges and 2) make between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

The odds you qualify are likely higher than you think. In 2014, 85 percent of those who selected a health insurance plan through the state-based and federally facilitated exchanges qualified for financial assistance.[2] After premium tax credits were applied, the average monthly rate paid was $82—again, across all metal plans sold on federally facilitated health insurance exchanges. The average bronze plan premium was $289 before premium tax credits and $68 after. You may find you could pay a far less.

For instance, based on a quote run at, a single, 35-year-old living in Portland, Oregon, and earning an annual income 140 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,338) may qualify for a bronze plan that costs as little as $28.78 per month after subsidy. An individual of the same age and financial means living in Boston may qualify for subsidies that bring premium costs down to $4.33 per month—and possibly free.

For 2015 health insurance plans, financial assistance will be based on the 2014 federal poverty guidelines, which may be found at {}.

How to get nearly free health insurance in 4 simple steps

Follow steps below to obtain nearly free Obamacare-qualified health insurance without being on Medicaid.

  1. Visit HealthCare.comOn the landing page, enter your ZIP code and select “Health” from the Insurance Product dropdown menu. Click “Search.”
  1. Provide additional details about yourself—contact information will not be requested: Enter your household income, date of birth, gender and tobacco use. If you are shopping for health insurance coverage for your spouse and dependent children, you will add them and enter their information. Click “View Plans.”
  1. Compare featured health insurance plans available in your area: Look carefully over the chart and note metal levels, deductibles, office visit costs and coverage (i.e., dental, prescription drug and emergency room benefits). Under the Monthly Cost column, you will see the full premium rate as well as the subsidized price estimate. Here is where you can filter your search criteria, click on plans to compare more in-depth, explore individual plan details, get a quote and begin the enrollment process.
  1. Buy an Obamacare qualified health plan—with or without a subsidy: If you want to buy coverage and get the premium tax credit, visit your state’s health insurance exchange. Otherwise, if you wish to pay the entire premium amount, are not eligible for a subsidy or prefer to buy in the private marketplace, you can continue with the enrollment process online at Remember: Only plans purchased on state-based and federally facilitated health insurance exchanges qualify for financial assistance.

If you need help selecting a plan or applying for health insurance coverage, call 877-275-0485 to talk to one of’s licensed agents.


[1] Burke, Amy, et al. ASPE Research Brief: Premium, Affordability, Competition, and Choice in the Health Insurance Marketplace. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. June 18, 2014. Retrieved from

[2]U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. “Health Insurance Marketplace: Summary Enrollment Report for the Initial Annual Open Enrollment: For the Period: October 1, 2013–March 31, 2014 (Including Additional Special Enrollment Activity Reported through 4-19-14).”  May 1, 2014. Retrieved from

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