What is the Marketplace?
The Health Insurance Marketplace, or Exchange, is an online shopping center based at HealthCare.gov. It's where to go to apply for coverage, find out if you qualify for savings, and make changes to your health plan.
Visit http://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage to find out if your state uses the federal marketplace or a state based marketplace.
If your employer offers health insurance coverage, they may have a website where you can shop for plans. This is called a "private marketplace," and it's different from the Federal or State Marketplaces.
The Marketplace makes it possible to find health care coverage that meets your needs and budget. If you can afford coverage but choose not to buy it, you may have to pay a penalty.
Who shops on the Marketplace?
If you and your family don't have health insurance coverage through your job, you can choose a health plan from the Marketplace and pay for it on your own. If you are self-employed or unemployed, the Marketplace is a place to go for health coverage. If your employer offers health insurance coverage, you can still shop the Marketplace, but you will pay full price for your plan. Everyone who shops the health insurance Marketplace must be a U.S. citizen and live in the United States. If you qualify for Medicare, you are not eligible to shop the Marketplace. People who are incarcerated are also not eligible.
When can I buy a plan on the Marketplace?
You can shop for health insurance during Open Enrollment or a Special Enrollment Period. The 2019 Open Enrollment period starts November 1, 2018 and ends December 15, 2018. A Special Enrollment Period is open to people for 60 days after certain life changes such as moving, getting married or having a baby.
What kinds of health insurance plans are available on the Marketplace?
There are four levels of health plans that you can buy on the Marketplace: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. (“Catastrophic” plans may be available to some people.) Each level pays a different portion of your health care bills.
You will also pay a portion of your health care expenses through your monthly premium, copays, deductible, and coinsurance. The amount you pay depends on your plan.
The right plan to choose will depend on many factors, which vary from one person to another.
Can I get federal financial assistance?
Depending on your income and the number of people in your household, you may qualify for federal financial assistance to help you pay for health insurance. Financial assistance can lower the cost of your monthly premium, the amount you pay when you get care, or both.