Obamacare, the health-reform law, makes affordable health insurance accessible to individuals of all income levels. Additionally, it helps lower out-of-pocket expenses with financial assistance such as premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions.
Applying for a health plan doesn’t need to be a stressful process. You can enroll in one at any time of the year, regardless of if you’ve had a qualifying life event.
1. You can apply anytime
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes it possible for you to apply anytime for health insurance coverage, especially if you experience a qualifying life event such as losing your job-based coverage or getting married.
Obamacare plans offer a range of prices and coverage levels. You can select from bronze, silver, gold or platinum plans.
To find a plan that meets both your needs and budget, you’ll need to answer some questions. Once you have estimated prices, you can compare them and decide which is best suited for you.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers subsidies to help cover your monthly premiums. In 2023, these subsidies will be available to people with incomes up to 150% of the federal poverty level – $20,385 for single people and $34,545 for families.
2. You can apply for financial help
If you don’t currently have health insurance or your current plan does not meet the minimum standards required by Obamacare, you may qualify for financial assistance to pay for it – this is known as a subsidy.
People eligible for a subsidy receive a federal tax credit to cover their monthly premium costs. The amount of your subsidy depends on your income level.
To determine how much you could potentially qualify for, click here to watch a video.
You may qualify for cost-sharing reductions that will help cover your deductible, copays or coinsurance. Unfortunately, these subsidies aren’t available to everyone; however, those in need can take advantage of them.
3. You can change your plan
If your plan no longer meets your requirements or it has become too expensive for you to maintain, you can easily switch it. Simply log into your Marketplace account and make the necessary changes.
On the exchanges, there are four distinct plan types: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Each plan has its own deductible and cost-sharing benefits.
People on lower incomes can take advantage of subsidies provided by Obamacare to help pay their monthly premiums. These subsidies were increased through the American Rescue Plan Act, which went into effect in 2021 and further increases these payments.
Cost-sharing reductions such as reduced deductibles or copayments may be available. But remember, premiums vary by state, so be sure to comparison shop before making your final decision.
4. You can enroll in a plan during Open Enrollment
Open Enrollment is a yearly period when you can shop and enroll in a Marketplace health insurance plan. In most states, this takes place from November 1 to January 15.
This is an ideal chance to find a policy that meets both your needs and budget, plus you have the option of applying for financial assistance if needed.
You can enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at any time of the year if you meet eligibility. These programs offer affordable health coverage to low-income individuals, families and children, pregnant women, seniors and people living with disabilities.
5. You can enroll in a plan during a Special Enrollment Period
When the Affordable Care Act began, there was only one time each year when people could sign up for marketplace coverage or subsidized private plans – known as Open Enrollment. This occurs between November 1 and January 31 annually.
If your plan isn’t satisfactory, you have the option to change it. Furthermore, if eligible, you may apply for financial assistance.
Special enrollment periods can be initiated by life events that affect your health insurance, such as losing job-based coverage, getting married or having a baby.
During the annual Open Enrollment Period, you have the option of enrolling in a plan with an earlier effective date. This is great for people who cannot make changes during their annual Open Enrollment Period due to a qualifying life event.