Under the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance plans that qualify as minimum essential coverage may be purchased on the state-based and federally facilitated exchanges, which the government calls the Health Insurance Marketplace. But did you know you can shop elsewhere?
Minimum essential health insurance that fulfills Obamacare requirements may also be purchased away from the health insurance exchanges. Here are three alternative options for those looking to avoid HealthCare.gov or their state’s exchange when 2015 open enrollment begins Nov. 15, 2014.
1. Agents and brokers – A licensed health insurance agent or broker can be especially helpful as you navigate the Affordable Care Act landscape. These individuals can introduce you to ACA-compliant health insurance plans available away from your state’s exchange and assist you in selecting benefits that accommodate your budgetary and health care needs. Be aware that not all health insurance agents and brokers will sell all health insurance plans available in your region.
NAHU’s Find an Agent tool is a helpful resource for locating a health insurance agent near you. Health insurance agents and brokers may also help you shop for exchange-based health insurance coverage; you can find them at your state’s health insurance exchange website.
2. Health insurance carriers – You can buy directly from health insurance companies who sell plans in the private marketplace. Visit company websites to learn more about individual and family health insurance plans they offer in the private marketplace (i.e., away from your state’s exchange). You can often get a quote and apply for health insurance coverage through these websites as well. Contact the company’s customer support to ask questions and get assistance.
Your state’s insurance department can be useful when it comes to finding health insurance carrier and agent licensing information, including complaints and financial information. Use the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s map to find your state’s insurance department.
Visit HealthPocket.com to compare all health insurance plans in your area and sort them by factors such as deductible, provider, metal level and monthly cost.
3. Online marketplaces – Shop websites such as ehealthinsurance.com and healthedeals.com to find health insurance plans and gather quotes. In addition to individual and family health insurance plans, online health insurance marketplaces often sell supplemental products such as dental and vision insurance, critical illness plans and pet insurance, as well as temporary health insurance coverage.
As with agents and brokers, private online marketplaces will not sell every health insurance plan available in your area. These marketplaces do have licensed agents on staff who can guide you through your options, answer your Obamacare and health insurance questions, and help you find the right health insurance plan. They also allow you to get a quote, apply and enroll online, 24/7.
What you should know when buying away from an Obamacare exchange
If you want to buy health insurance somewhere other than a state-based or federally facilitated health insurance exchange, it important to be aware that:
- You lose access to subsidies. Income-based financial assistance in the form of premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies is only available for health insurance plans purchased on state-based and federally facilitated health insurance exchanges.
- Health insurance plans sold away from the exchanges must be ACA-compliant. Away from the Obamacare exchanges, health insurance that qualifies as minimum essential coverage may be offered by different carriers or go by different plan names. However, it must comply with the Affordable Care Act, which means it will include certain preventive services at no additional cost and essential health benefits, cannot deny you or charge you more based on health history and preexisting conditions, and is categorized by metal level.
What if you do not want to buy minimum essential coverage?
Some people do not want to buy ACA-compliant health insurance for political, financial or personal reasons. A June 2014 Health Reform Monitoring Survey by the Urban Institute Health Policy Center found that 20 percent of uninsured respondents did not have health insurance because they did not want it or would rather pay the fine. 1
For those looking for some level of health insurance benefits to assist with unexpected medical expenses, temporary health insurance may be an option. Also known as short-term medical plans, temporary health insurance plans last 30 to 364 days, depending on individual need and state law. Temporary health insurance is neither ACA-compliant nor does it qualify as minimum essential coverage; it does not include preventive care; and it will not prevent you from owing the shared responsibility payment tax penalty. However, it does include certain benefits for medical care related to accidents and illnesses. It takes only a few minutes to apply, and your policy may begin as soon as the next day.
Visit healthedeals.com to learn more about temporary health insurance and get a no-obligation quote. Call 888-839-7679 to talk to a healthedeals.com health insurance agent who can answer your questions and help you find a plan.
A SHORT TERM HEALTH BENFIT PLAN IS NOT INTENDED TO QUALIFY AS THE MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE REQUIRED BY THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA). UNLESS YOU PURCHASE A PLAN THAT PROVIDES MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACA, YOU MAY BE SUBJECT TO A FEDERAL TAX PENALTY. ALSO, THE TERMINATION OR LOSS OF THIS POLICY DOES NOT ENTITLE YOU TO A SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD TO PURCHASE A HEALTH BENEFIT PLAN THAT QUALIFIES AS MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE OUTSIDE OF AN OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD. THIS POLICY INCLUDES A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION EXCLUSION PROVISION.
You may qualify for an exemption to the tax penalty depending on your situation. Feel free to give us a call so we can find out for you and offer you an affordable alternative to Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act! Call us at 888-959-3788