A Newbie’s Guide to Signing Up for Health Insurance
Unsure how to go about getting insurance on the Marketplace? Here are the basics:
There is a three-step process to getting healthcare in the Marketplace
- Create an account on Healthcare.gov (you should do this a day or two before you actually want to sign up for a plan)
- After the account is created, fill out an application with your basic info (more on this below)
- . Select a plan (more on this below)
Other things you should know:
- The last day to sign up is December 15th.
- The website is down on Sundays (blame Trump for that)
Now, when you fill out an application, what information do you need to have handy? Not too much:
1. Your name, date of birth, and social security number
2. Information on if you smoke tobacco, and how much
3. The above information for anyone else you’re getting insurance for, such as children or a spouse
4. If your income is below $28,000 a year, you need to have an accurate estimate of what your income was last year.
(If your income is more than $28,000/year, you don’t qualify for reduced payments, so you don’t need to provide your income. If you make less than that, congratulations, you are eligible for a subsidy, which gives you discounted health insurance! But you will need to make sure you report your income accurately, so that your discount is correct.)
Choosing a plan.
After filling out the application with the above information, you will be given a ton of plans to choose from. You can sort by the lowest monthly cost. Some terminology: a premium is how much you pay per month. A deductible is, basically, the largest amount you’d need to pay in a given year for health-related costs. So you want to find a plan with a low premium and a low deductible, as much as possible. Every plan will cover basic doctor’s visits, emergencies, some therapy, some drug treatment, an annual pap smear, and things of that nature.
What do you do if you can’t afford the monthly premiums? SIGN UP ANYWAY. You can stop paying at any time in the year, with no penalty. Your health insurance will stop if you stop making payments, of course, but you won’t have any fees or any debt for doing so, and it will not affect your credit. There’s no obligation to pay for a whole year of insurance if you sign up. You can stop paying (if you need to) at any time, and then sign up for insurance again next year.
Here is a guide to signing up: https://www.healthcare.gov/tips-and-troubleshooting/creating-an-account/
And here are some more details on how to apply & sign up for insurance: https://marketplace.cms.gov/applications-and-forms/marketplace-application-for-family-instructions.pdf