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How Much is Health Insurance for a Low Income Family?

For families below the poverty line, health insurance is often not as high a priority as it should be - and even for those who do need it, the premiums alone may be well outside what they can afford after even more crucial necessities such as food, utilities, and rent. Private health insurance is becoming more and more expensive and covering fewer and fewer expenses, so low-income families often end up feeling like they have no way to obtain suitable insurance at all, let alone afford medical expenses entirely out of pocket. Even worse, the lower quality of life associated with living in poverty makes health problems more common, making insurance both more necessary and more expensive.

Fortunately, the government has programs to help cover health expenses for people in low-income situations - most prominently, Medicaid, which will cover some or all of medical expenses for many people below the poverty line. There are qualifications required for Medicaid beyond simply having low income, but there are enough categories covered - including children, pregnancy, and disabilities - that it will usually cover most chronic medical conditions or emergencies; it will not provide long-term coverage "just in case" of emergencies. Medicaid often offers full coverage for expenses, but since it is a program run through state governments the policy will depend on which state you live in; some states will require a copay for Medicaid-covered expenses, but usually only a very small one.

For families that do not qualify for Medicaid - either because their income is too high but insufficient for private insurance, or because they lack any other qualifying factor - there is also a government program called SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program). SCHIP is primarily meant to provide partial or complete medical insurance to children, but the program also covers many adults who cannot qualify for Medicaid.

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