Here’s a quick rundown on the most important things to know about the Health Insurance Marketplace, sometimes known as the health insurance “exchange.” Links for more information on each topic are at https://www.healthcare.gov/, lower left, click on “Get covered: A one-page guide.”
The new Health Insurance Marketplace helps uninsured people find health coverage. When you fill out the Marketplace application we’ll tell you if you qualify for:
- Private insurance plans. You may qualify for lower costs based on your household size and income. Plans cover essential health benefits, pre-existing conditions, and preventive care. If you don’t qualify for lower costs, you can still use the Marketplace to buy insurance at the standard price.
- Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs provide coverage to millions of families with limited income. If it looks like you qualify, we’ll share information with your state agency and they’ll contact you. Many states, but not Texas, are expanding Medicaid in 2014 to cover more people.
Most people must have health coverage in 2014 or pay a fee. If you don’t have coverage in 2014, you’ll have to pay a penalty of $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, or 1% of your income (whichever is higher). The fee increases every year. Some people may qualify for an exemption to this fee. For example, you are exempt if the lowest-priced coverage available to you would cost more than 8% of your household income. https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions/
You’re considered covered if you have Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, any job-based plan, any plan you bought yourself, COBRA, retiree coverage, TRICARE, VA health coverage, or some other kinds of health coverage.
If you’re eligible for job-based insurance, you can consider switching to a Marketplace plan. But you won’t qualify for lower costs based on your income unless the job-based insurance is unaffordable or doesn’t meet minimum requirements. You also may lose any contribution your employer makes to your premiums.
If you have Medicare, you’re considered covered and don’t have to make any changes. You can’t use the Marketplace to buy a supplemental or dental plan.
Marketplace open enrollment ends March 31, 2014. If you enroll by December 15, 2013, coverage can begin as soon as January 1, 2014.
Questions? Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325)
Ready to apply? Get started here: https://www.healthcare.gov