Sometimes, the most affordable health insurance plan for you and your family is not offered through your employer. The Health Insurance Marketplace is a federally run website that allows you to shop for health care plans and compare costs. Marketplace insurance plans are available for purchase from dozens of insurance companies at a variety of price points.
When you purchase an insurance plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace, you are enrolling in what is known as an “individual health insurance” plan. This means that your plan is not associated with an employer, union or other large organization, which provide plans known as “group health insurance.”
Depending on a few personal factors, your low-cost health insurance option could be offered through the Marketplace rather than through an employer or other organization. For most full-time employees, group health coverage is the least expensive option. However, those who do not want or do not qualify for group health insurance can shop for plans on the federal website and compare the costs.
You may find numerous cheap health insurance plans on the Marketplace, all of which provide different levels of coverage at different costs. However, all insurance plans are required to cover a set of 10 essential services as defined in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These are:
- Preventive care
- Inpatient care (hospitalizations)
- Outpatient care
- Emergency services
- Mental health care
- Prescription drug coverage
- Rehabilitative care
- Laboratory services
- Pediatric care (including dental and vision care)
- Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care
Beyond these services, Marketplace insurance plans may offer more coverage for specific medical needs. For example, insurance plans are not required to cover dental care for adults; if you wish to have dental coverage, you can search for plans that include these types of services.
Coverage options are not the only difference between Marketplace health insurance plans. It is important to compare all costs for each plan before enrolling. You may need to pay some or all of the following costs associated with your health care:
- Monthly premiums – You pay this each month to maintain your health coverage
- Copayments – You may need to pay a specific amount of money out-of-pocket for certain services
- Coinsurance – This is a percentage of the cost of a particular service you need to pay after you reach your deductible
If you are having trouble finding low-cost health insurance plans on the Marketplace, you may qualify for affordable coverage through a government program. Continue reading the next slide to learn more about Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare and how to qualify for these federal health insurance plans.