The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been law for a few years now, and you may be wondering: how do I get health insurance?
The website HealthCare.gov is the gateway to finding and buying quality health insurance on your own or in a group plan through one of the new marketplaces. The government is no longer directly providing coverage, but they will continue to offer subsidies that help make coverage more affordable for millions of Americans.
So if you don’t have insurance through your employer or you can’t afford it, here’s what you need to know about shopping for individual health insurance plans and getting covered through the marketplace.
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in 2010, it marked an important shift in the country. It was one of the largest changes to our healthcare system since Medicare and Medicaid were created in the 1960s.
The ACA aimed to make health insurance more affordable and accessible for all Americans. The law also required most people to get health coverage or face financial penalties.
If you don’t have health insurance, you can sign up for a plan through your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace at Healthcare.gov or through your local Marketplace call center by calling 1-800-318-2596 (toll-free).
You can learn about different types of plans that are available on the marketplace and apply online, by phone or by mail or fax once you qualify for a premium tax credit based on your income level.
It’s easy to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, which is a federal program that offers tax credits to help pay for health insurance. If you don’t have coverage through your employer or if you’re not sure whether your employer provides health insurance, you can apply for an individual marketplace plan.
Most Americans qualify for premium tax credits on the marketplace if they earn between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which varies by family size and state. The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is based on your family size and where you live in the country. To find out what this means for you, check out the FPL calculator.
To apply for a marketplace plan, contact your local county office of social services or call 800-318-2596. You’ll need to provide proof that you’re eligible for financial assistance as well as other documents such as birth certificates or marriage licenses for dependents under age 26.
Here’s how to get coverage through the new health insurance exchanges:
Open enrollment for 2017 coverage begins on November 1, 2016 and ends on December 15, 2016. Coverage in the individual market starts January 1, 2017.
You must have a qualifying life event (such as getting married or divorced, having a baby, losing your job) that qualifies you for a special enrollment period (SEP). Your SEP will generally be at least 30 days but no more than 90 days long. To find out if you qualify for an SEP, go to Healthcare.gov/sep or call 1-800-318-2596.
You can only enroll in a health plan during open enrollment — not outside it — so if you’re eligible for an SEP but don’t sign up during open enrollment, you won’t be able to buy coverage until next year’s open enrollment period begins on November 1st of 2017.