The Health Insurance Marketplace, or Exchange, is the new way to shop for and buy health insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
These marketplaces are also referred to as Exchanges or Marketplaces.
If you buy your own insurance, you should use the Marketplace to help you compare health plans and find out if you can get financial help to lower your costs.
You can also use the Marketplace to see if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Do I Have To Get Health Insurance?
The Affordable Care Act requires that every American purchase health insurance.
That doesn’t mean you have to buy it from your state marketplace, however.
You might qualify for an exemption (if you’re uninsured and don’t get coverage through your employer or government program) or be eligible for a hardship exemption (if premiums will cost more than 8% of your income).
In these cases, you can apply for an exemption using Healthcare.gov’s hardship application tool.
If you don’t qualify for an exemption, purchasing health insurance is mandatory.
How Much Does Obamacare Cost?
The Affordable Care Act requires Americans to be insured, and if you don’t obtain your own coverage, you’ll have to pay a fee on your taxes.
The fee for 2016 is 2.5% of your household income or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.
If your income is below that threshold, however, there’s no cost at all for being uninsured. In addition, there are subsidies available based on income level and family size; these might help lower your premiums even further.
The Affordable Care Act makes a concerted effort to make health insurance more affordable; with those subsidies in mind and those low fees in place (which you can avoid), getting covered by Obamacare just might be a very smart decision.
When Can I Buy 2018 Plans & Coverage Under The Affordable Care Act (ACA)?
The 2018 Open Enrollment Period begins on November 1, 2017 and ends on December 15, 2017.
Coverage will begin as early as January 1, 2018. You can purchase plans at healthcare.gov/coverage-marketplace during open enrollment or when you have a qualifying life event (i.e., new job, had a baby, moved).
If you’re looking for health insurance outside of open enrollment and are not experiencing a qualifying life event, visit healthcare.gov/conditions-indicator/glossary for details about how to apply for Marketplace coverage outside of open enrollment.
Am I Eligible For A Subsidy In The Obamacare Marketplace?
There are a few different things that determine whether or not you’re eligible for a subsidy under Obamacare.
The first factor is your income level—this determines whether or not you qualify at all and how much of a subsidy you can receive.
If your household makes more than 400% of FPL (or $94,200), there’s no chance of receiving any financial help from government assistance programs.
Between that range, things start to get a little more complicated—the next factor is where you live, as state governments have some leeway in determining their own insurance costs.
Enroll Through The Federally Facilitated Marketplace Or A State Exchange In 2018?
Many people qualify for special enrollment periods during other times of year, but if you don’t meet any of those requirements, you must go through a general enrollment period.
The first is open between November 1, 2018 and December 15, 2018.
If you want health insurance coverage starting January 1, 2019 or later in 2019, then you will need to enroll during GEP 1.
Note that it can take a couple weeks after your enrollment request is submitted for coverage to become effective; always check with your plan directly regarding how long it will take.
Can I Buy Directly From An Insurer If My State Doesn’t Run Its Own Exchange In 2018?
If your state has a federally-facilitated exchange (FFE), you will be able to buy from an insurer through that exchange.
You may have heard some people refer to these as Obamacare exchanges or federal exchanges.
If you can buy a plan directly from an insurer using their online marketplace, it’s an individual plan and not part of your employer’s group coverage.
Depending on where you live, there are other ways for you to get health insurance. Many states have facilitated their own health insurance marketplaces (also known as exchanges) for residents in 2018.
Enrollments for those plans open on November 1st and close on December 15th.
When Is Open Enrollment Under The Affordable Care Act For 2018, And What Happens If I Miss It?
For those who are under 65 and do not qualify for Medicare, there is an online application for Medicaid.
To apply online, you will need a state-issued identification number, date of birth and Social Security number.
This information can be obtained from either your state’s Medicaid website or your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
If applying online doesn’t work for you, visit your local department of human services to fill out a paper application instead.
Once completed, bring it into any DHS office so they can process it.
The application process should take anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours—make sure you have enough time before you start filling out paperwork.
Depending on which state you live in, some offices have limited hours; if possible try calling ahead before visiting their offices in person.
How Do I Pick A Policy That Fits Me And My Family In 2018 And Beyond?
In past years, it was possible to be relatively cavalier about health insurance.
Coverage was readily available and affordable for nearly everyone.
But times have changed, and today’s open enrollment period could be very different than previous ones.
The Affordable Care Act hasn’t changed, but there are a lot of factors that will make getting coverage difficult for some people in 2018.
Because of that, you need to plan ahead and pick your insurance carefully.
That might mean being flexible with timing or even policy type, because one size doesn’t fit all anymore when it comes to choosing a health plan.
Also: How To Sign Up For Obamacare In 6 Easy Steps (EzineArticles Submission)
How Do You Decide Which Type Of Plan Is Best For You In The ACA Marketplaces For 2018 And Beyond?
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide how much coverage you want.
Under current law, health insurance must cover essential health benefits, which includes things like inpatient and outpatient hospital care, medical visits, prescription drugs and maternity care.
On top of that minimum standard for coverage, most marketplace plans also offer more robust coverage (see below).
But it can be very costly; according to a recent analysis by Avalere Health , only about one-third of enrollees picked a bronze plan (the lowest cost option) for 2017.
The remaining two-thirds chose silver or gold plans — suggesting that even those who are getting subsidies from Washington may still find marketplace health insurance premiums unaffordable.
Health insurance companies
Medicaid is a program that helps people of limited means. Whether you’re working and just don’t make enough money, or not, Medicaid provides for many low-income individuals and families.
It does so through state programs called Medicaid agencies that administer Medicaid benefits and services within each state.
In some cases, depending on your financial circumstances, you might also be able to qualify for help from private insurance companies or qualified charitable organizations known as 501(c)(3) public charities.
If you’re not sure where to start looking for health coverage options or have questions about which ones would best suit your needs, contact your local Social Security office.