Each state in the U.S. has a Health Insurance Marketplace. This is an online portal that includes hundreds of insurance plans that are available at different premium rates and coverage levels. You can trust these marketplaces as a resource to find low cost, yet comprehensive health insurance, because each plan must follow government guidelines stated within the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The ACA was created to give Americans access to low cost health care by providing affordable health insurance plans. It also requires approved plans to cover certain services, including emergency services, prescription drugs, preventive services and much more. You can usually purchase cheap health insurance through your state’s marketplace during the open enrollment period of November 1 to December 15th.
Keep in mind that some states have extended enrollment periods in order to make it easier for people to enroll.
You can typically sign up for a health plan through the health insurance marketplace as long as you have legal presence in the United States, are not incarcerated and are currently living in the country.
If you do not qualify for Medicaid and are unable to afford an insurance plan through your state’s marketplace, you may still be entitled to healthcare. You can find a community health center near you with a quick internet search of “community health center” and your zip code.
Community health centers often provide the following services:
- Preventative care, such as prenatal & perinatal care, immunizations, family planning & pediatric services
- Vaccinations for infants
- General care
- Referrals to specialists.
To give yourself time to research the most cost-effective marketplace plans, you can compare and contrast different health insurance policies on the marketplace site in advance of the open enrollment period.
To make it easier for consumers, the Marketplace website sorts different health insurance plans into “medal” categories. Bronze and Silver plans have lower monthly premiums, but you will have to pay more when you actually get medical care. Gold and Platinum plans, on the other hand, have higher monthly premiums, but generally, you will not need to pay high out-of-pocket costs when you go to get medical care.
Keep in mind though that all plans are required to cover preventive services without any cost to you. Additionally, plans must cover a list of essential health benefits and services, though you may still have to pay some of the costs for these depending on your plan.