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How to Use the Healthcare Marketplace to Buy Insurance

March 17, 2014

The healthcare marketplace has made headlines for a long time and for a lot of reasons. Unfortunately, not a lot of that coverage has been devoted to explaining how to buy health insurance from the healthcare marketplace. As a matter of fact, there’s not a clear description of how it works. To help you get health insurance coverage without getting a headache in the process, we put all of that information into one place and made it as easy to read as we could. Take a minute and learn everything you need to know about buying health insurance from the healthcare marketplace.

What is the Healthcare Marketplace?

The healthcare marketplace is where American citizens can go to shop for healthcare packages from numerous health insurance providers. The idea is that you input some basic information about yourself and the insurance companies provide you a quote for health insurance based on the information you provided. Previously, most Americans got their healthcare through their employer but in recent years a difficult economy and high unemployment rates meant many Americans didn’t have access to affordable health insurance. The healthcare marketplace was created to remedy that. You can access the federally owned and operated healthcare marketplace by visiting HealthCare.gov.

Is there only One Healthcare Marketplace?

No. While most people are referring to the federal program when they reference the healthcare marketplace, there are other websites offering health insurance price comparison. Some are run by individual states or municipalities and some are privately owned and operated.

How do I get Health Insurance through the Healthcare Marketplace?

The federal healthcare marketplace, HealthCare.gov, has four ways you can purchase health insurance.

  • Apply Online: Go to HealthCare.gov and select “View Plans” to start the process for comparing health insurance plans. Once you find a policy that meets your needs, you can apply for that coverage on the HealthCare.gov website.
  • Apply by phone. Call to apply for a health insurance plan and enroll over the phone.
  • Apply in person. Trained counselors are available in most communities. Get information and apply in person through one of these trained health insurance counselors. To find out who in your area can help you apply in person, visit:  LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
  • Apply by mail. Like to do things the old-fashioned way? You can fill out a paper application and mail it in. The application and instructions for filling it out are available at HealthCare.gov.

Can I Qualify for Financial Assistance?

This question is a bit complicated as there are several things that determine whether a person or family qualifies for financial assistance or reduced cost of their health insurance plan. Some of these factors include your age, location, annual income, and tobacco use. To simplify the process, the healthcare marketplace has a calculator that can help you figure out whether or not you qualify for financial assistance. It also can give you an idea of the kinds of prices you can expect on the healthcare marketplace. There is also a convenient chart that shows the income brackets that qualify for financial assistance.

The Healthcare Marketplace Process

Buying health insurance coverage on the healthcare marketplace is a multi-step process, but it isn’t very difficult. You can make the process easier by being properly prepared and having the information you’ll need to apply on hand.

First, you’ll be asked to create a profile or otherwise submit information about yourself and your household including income, age, sex, location, and tobacco use. After you’ve done that you’ll be shown healthcare plans for which you qualify, along with pricing information. You choose the one that meets your specific needs and apply for that coverage. You may need to provide additional information in order to finalize the plan, but once that’s done all you have to do is pay your first month’s premium and that’s it! You’re covered!

Get a Free Healthcare Quote

It’s important to compare health insurance policies before you buy. Make sure you know how to compare one healthcare plan to another then get your free health insurance quote.

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