Health Insurance for individuals and Families
Getting Started on Finding Individual or Family Health Insurance
Ok, take a deep breath and realize that you are not alone on your health insurance journey. This site will allow you to sift through all the jargon and become an expert on health insurance in very little time.
Why should I bother to buy health insurance anyway— isn’t it expensive?
Health insurance may not be cheap, but it’s a lot less expensive than being caught without coverage when something bad happens. As well as, there’s this little thing called the Affordable Care Act which has an individual mandate as of 2014. So either you’ll have insurance or you’ll pay an ACA penalty of $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is greater. Yes, there a few exceptions, such as you’re incarcerated or its against your religious beliefs -but other than that, you’ll need it.
As you are probably aware, the cost of health care in America is extremely high. One night in the hospital averages over $9,000. In 2010 the average cost of a simple appendix removal is over $20,000. Most of us know of at least one scary story of someone who returned from the hospital, only to be steeped in tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt. Expensive medical bills are the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in America. A key function of health insurance is to protect you from the extreme financial risk posed by the high cost of medical expenses.
What is ObamaCare?
First, ObamaCare is the nickname given to the Affordable Care Act. A lot of people get confused that they are two different things -don’t feel bad if you did. Now, you know better. There are a few things you need to know besides that:
- Coverage for the new plans begin January 1, 2014
- 4 Metal Tiers: Affordable Care Act Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans
- Guaranteed Issuance: insurance companies can no longer not extend insurance or charge more to those with a preexisting condition
- Essential Health Benefits: All new plans must incorporate these, which include $0 preventive care, maternity, and emergency services.
- Premium Subsidies are available for those who qualify. These tax credits help with your monthly cost.
- Cost-sharing subsidies are also available for those who qualify. These tax credits can lower your out-of-pocket costs by helping with your deductible, copayment, and coinsurance.
How do I get an ObamaCare plan?
You can contact the new navigators through your state or federal Exchange or you can contact an insurance agent. The main difference between navigators and agents is: navigators cannot suggest a plan or enroll you in an off-Exchange plan, while an agent is able to do both. An off-Exchange plan is one sold outside of the Health Insurance Marketplace (you know, those metal plans that are available on the Exchanges). These plans could be identical to the metal plans or they could offer more benefits and even possibly lower premiums. These plans are ideal for those who do not qualify for subsidies. So, if you know you make way too much to qualify, save yourself time and the hassle of having all your financial paperwork in front of you, by signing up for a plan off the Exchange.
Why are you promoting health insurance to me when I’m clearly already shopping for it?
True, most people probably know everything explained above, but often people lose site of why they really want health insurance in the first place. Some of you are used to corporate health insurance plans that have $10 office visits and plans with no deductible. Those plans are outrageously expensive and though you probably paid for a portion through a payroll deduction, your employer paid a lot more toward that plan. Remember, you are purchasing a plan to keep you out of bankruptcy, should some major medical issue occur. Just like you don’t buy car insurance to cover your oil changes, you shouldn’t buy health insurance to cover every single health related issue. Your goal is to pick a plan that you can afford each month and will protect you should you have serious health issues.
Next Steps: Check out our How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan page.