How to buy individual health insurance

Buying health insurance is a lot like buying any other type of insurance. You might want to ask:

Who is covered?

What services are covered?

How much will it cost?

How long will the plan last?

When you’re ready to buy, here’s how to get started:

Compare plans. Find plans that meet your needs and budget by comparing costs and coverage options on or your state marketplace (if available). You can also contact a licensed insurance agent or broker for help comparing plans in your area.

Find an agent or broker. If you choose not to shop for coverage on or your state marketplace, you can find an agent or broker who can help find coverage that meets your needs and budget. Licensed agents and brokers have expertise in health insurance products and can explain options so you can make an informed decision about which plan is best for you.

If you’re buying a health plan on your own, you can compare the prices and benefits of different plans. You can buy health insurance for yourself and your family, including children.

You may be eligible for a tax credit that lowers the cost of coverage.

If you don’t have coverage through work or a government program, you might qualify for Medicaid, CHIP or other programs that provide coverage at little or no cost to you.

To find out how to buy individual health insurance:

Go to or contact your state’s Marketplace Call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY/TDD 1-855-889-4325) to find out if you qualify for financial help with premiums and out-of-pocket costs. You can also see if there are any special enrollment periods that apply to you during the year by checking out this list of qualifying life events from”

When you buy individual insurance, you are purchasing coverage for yourself only. Some people choose to buy individual health insurance because it’s less expensive than group coverage. Others have health conditions that don’t qualify them for group plans. And others still may be between jobs and need temporary coverage while they look for new employment.

When you buy individual health insurance, there are a few things to keep in mind:

You can choose your own primary care doctor and specialists.

If you’re buying an individual health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you’ll find a list of doctors and hospitals that are in-network on your policy. You can also use the Marketplace to search for providers by zip code or city and state, as well as compare prices based on those factors. You can also call your state insurance commissioner’s office or the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) for help finding an in-network provider who accepts your plan.

You may have a better chance of getting covered for pre-existing conditions if your employer offers its own group plan but not necessarily if you buy an individual plan outside of work — especially if your condition is serious enough that insurers would

If you’re looking for a health insurance plan to cover you, your spouse, or your child, there are several ways to buy individual coverage. You can shop on the state health insurance exchanges, where prices and plans are standardized, or you can buy directly from an insurance company.

If you buy on the exchanges: You’ll have access to a variety of plans that meet certain requirements — such as providing essential health benefits and covering at least 60 percent of premiums — and may offer lower premiums for those with low incomes. However, some people may find that their premium tax credits don’t cover enough of their costs and they’ll still have to pay high out-of-pocket costs when they use their insurance.

If you buy directly from an insurance company: You’ll choose a plan based on what’s best for you and your family’s needs rather than what’s available in your area. But because most insurers offer similar benefits and premiums across states, many people won’t be able to take advantage of this option until 2020 when all states must allow such purchases (some states already do).

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