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Watch more Understanding Insurance videos: http://www.howcast.com/videos/282272-How-to-Find-Affordable-Health-Insurance

Use these tips to find a health plan that meets your needs and your budget.

Step 1: Check state laws
Become familiar with the health insurance laws in your state. Type the name of your state and "health insurance laws" into a search engine to find the appropriate government web site. 

Step 2: Check out group rates
Check out policies that trade associations offer; they often have lower rates. But make sure you're contacting a reputable trade group. Some lure in members with low premiums that jump up in a year or two. 

Tip
If you're self-employed, see if your state offers group rates to businesses with just a few employees. 

Step 3: Comparison shop
Comparison shop either on your own or with the help of a health insurance broker. Locate the latter through nahu.org. 

Step 4: Read the fine print
Buyer beware: Some policies offer only "limited benefits," a distinction that's not apparent unless you read the fine print. 

Tip
Three-quarters of Americans who are pushed into personal bankruptcy by medical problems had health insurance. 

Step 5: Go for a high deductible
Consider a high deductible. Depending on the size of your family and your medical situation, it may be cheaper to hold health insurance primarily for a catastrophic illness or injury rather than for regular office visits. 

Tip
Find out if you can open a health savings account, which lets you put money in an interest-bearing account that can be withdrawn, tax-free, for medical expenses your insurance doesn't cover. 

Step 6: Protect your children
Protect your children by calling 1-877-KIDS-NOW for information on low-cost – or even free – health insurance for children 18 years and younger. Each state has its own program for low-income families, and eligibility rules vary. 

Step 7: Look into Medicaid
If your income is very low, find out if you're eligible for Medicaid by contacting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Step 8: Apply for Medicare
If you're 65 years or older, apply for the federal health insurance program known as Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. 

Did You Know?
In some states, people who work 25 hours per week qualify for the health benefits of a full-time employee. 

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