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Health Insurance Basics

How to Shop for an ACA Individual Health Insurance Plan

October 16, 2017

If you need to purchase individual or family health insurance for next year, make sure you’re ready for the next Open Enrollment period.

You'll have an opportunity to preview and select plans shortly before Open Enrollment begins. Remember, Affordable Care Act subsidies for free or reduced cost coverage are only available from the Marketplace at HealthCare.gov during open enrollment—unless you qualify for Special Enrollment at other times.

5 Ways to Apply For Affordable Care Act Insurance

You can apply using these five, easy methods:

  1. Online. Go to HealthCare.gov and create an account. If you already have an account, just log in. There's user name and password help if you can't find yours right away.
  2. Phone: Sometimes it's nice to get help from someone on the phone, especially if you're new to the process. You can do that at the Marketplace Call Center. Check the HealthCare.gov website to learn what information you'll need ahead of time to complete the process with one call.
  3. In person: You can meet with someone if you prefer. The service is free. Go here to input your zip code and get your application started.
  4. Agent or Broker: This service is also free. The same in-person link above will invite you to select the "Agents and Brokers" tab for a list of options. However, not all agents or brokers may sell every participating ACA company's plan.
  5. Mail: This approach may take up to two weeks. When you preview Affordable Care Act plans before Open Enrollment starts, you can also download the newest paper application. Keep checking back.

Take your time to decide which shopping approach works best for you. Then decide which Affordable Care Act health insurance plan is the right one.