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Medical insurance application, silver pen and stethoscope

A Simple and Easy Guide to Getting Health Insurance

How to Get Medical Insurance

Health insurance in American is complicated, and you might feel lost amidst all the different terminology and avenues of securing coverage. There are several different ways to learn how to get affordable medical insurance.

After the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, finding affordable medical coverage became a challenge. More people had access to health care coverage, but at the same time, the cost of private policies increased and medical insurance companies introduced new regulations.

Read on to learn more about how to get medical insurance, the pros and cons of different types of coverage, and what to do if you can’t afford to pay for health insurance.

Open Enrollment

You cannot sign up for health insurance whenever you want. There is a specific time of year when medical insurance companies allow people to purchase policies. This period is called the open enrollment period. For example, the 2020 open enrollment period is November 1, 2019 to December 15, 2019.

During this period, you will be able to buy new coverage or make changes to any existing policies you already have. For example, any plans purchased during this time will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

Finding Coverage Through the Marketplace

The national health insurance Marketplace is a free service that you can use to explore your different coverage options. Some states run their own Marketplaces. You may also see the Marketplace referred to as “the exchange.”

Applying for coverage through the Marketplace has its pros and cons.

Pros:

  • You find out if you qualify for any premium tax credits or other breaks that can make coverage more affordable.
  • Screened for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance eligibility based on your state’s requirements.

Cons:

  • The Marketplace does not list every health insurance option available.
  • Private companies may not be listed, so you may pay more than you can comfortably afford to get coverage.

How to Get Medical Insurance From a Private Insurer

If you decide to forgo the exchange and look for health insurance on your own, you can explore various medical insurance providers in your state. Private companies may allow you to buy a policy at any time of the year, while others may still follow the open enrollment period.

Contacting a health insurance agent or broker in your area is one way to find private companies that offer qualifying health insurance. You can find brokers online using the search tool on healthcare.gov.

You can also lookup companies directly and explore their options. Some of the most popular private health insurance providers are:

  • Cigna Health Group
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Aetna Health Group
  • Human Group
  • Kaiser Foundation Group
  • HCSC Group

Pros and Cons of Marketplace vs. Work Coverage

If your employer offers health insurance, you may wonder whether it’s best to take their plan or purchase your own. With most job-based coverage, your employer pays a portion of your monthly premium. This can make medical insurance more affordable and accessible than it would be on its own.

However, some employer-based plans may offer limited coverage and have a high deductible or lack services you need. If you want to expand your insurance, then it may be helpful to explore some options on the exchange before you decide which form of insurance is best.

What if I Can’t Afford Health Insurance?

Parents and individuals who can’t pay for monthly premiums may qualify for government-funded health insurance. Every state offers its own form of Medicaid, and families can apply for coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance program.

It’s not always possible to afford absolutely everything you need on a particular plan, so make accommodations and prioritize your health needs. Keeping in mind your personal medical history and finding affordable medical insurance that covers the most important factors, will be easier than trying to find the “perfect” coverage.