How to Get Health Insurance
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Medical costs in the United States are among the highest in the whole world. According to data from 2016, the average price of a hospital stay in the land of the free is about 5,220 USD.
And yet, research from 2021 revealed that 51% of Americans don’t even have $1000 to cover for an emergency. This gives the impression that the regular American has no choice but to suffer financially if they ever get afflicted with an illness or a disease.
Luckily, you don’t have to bear this burden, as there is something you can do. Although it might not be the perfect solution, getting a comprehensive health insurance plan is your best course of action if you want to prepare for these costs.
Steps to Get Health Insurance in the US
There are five methods to get health insurance in the US, and we’ll go through each one in detail.
1. Check the ACA Marketplace
The Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the ACA Marketplace or simply just the Marketplace, is a centralized and standardized health insurance exchange where regular Americans can have easier access to information.
Before the Marketplace, looking for insurance policies was a tedious task of searching the internet and contacting agents. This is especially and disproportionately true for a lot of low-income citizens.
However, the ACA Marketplace pooled the best and most affordable policies in one place. Not only that, but the Affordable Care Act also implemented subsidies that you can benefit from if you reach certain thresholds.
Even if your income is not below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), you can still enroll in the affordable insurance policies that you can find in the Marketplace.
When Should You Apply?
Applying for an insurance policy in the ACA Marketplace is not so straightforward. There’s an ‘open enrollment period that the Marketplace is accepting policy buy-ins, typically beginning in November until February. These enrollment dates can vary by state, though.
If you can’t buy a policy during this period, you can’t enroll in a healthcare policy for the rest of the year until the next open enrollment. The only exception is if you have a life event that qualifies for special enrollment, like after giving birth or getting married.
How Can You Apply?
You can apply using multiple methods, such as online, phone, or in-person meetings. ACA navigators can also help you through everything you need to do.
You can also talk to assistance personnel or even an application counselor and ask for help finding the best policy for your needs.
Of course, if you want to be more involved, you can go online and look through the Marketplace offerings yourself.
2. Go Through Insurance Middlemen
Navigating through healthcare insurance is a tedious and complicated process.
There are a lot of documents you have to prepare, factors you have to consider, and policies to canvas. While you can do everything by yourself, it will take up a lot of time and frustration, especially if you’re entirely new to insurance plans.
Intermediaries can solve that problem. Third parties like insurance agents and brokers can help simplify this process. Before we go into the specifics, though, we need to distinguish them first.
- Insurance agents. These are individuals that have contractual agreements with a specific insurer. Essentially, insurance agents seek to position the best aspects of their company as a solution to their customer’s needs.
- Insurance brokers. On the other hand, insurance brokers work with multiple insurance companies. They have a stake in every policy they sell, so they will help you sift through the options and choose the best policies for you to ensure that you will go through with your purchase.
Both parties can make your insurance journey much easier, as they serve to bridge the gap between the regular consumer and the complex world of insurance.
Additionally, they offer services that might be difficult to come by, such as specializing in multiple languages.
But while both parties are trying to sell you something, you should always opt for a licensed insurance broker if you want more unbiased advice. While an insurance agent can help you navigate the different policies of a specific company, they are likely closed off to entertaining other providers.
3. Check Your Organization’s Options
Large membership organizations such as unions, alumni associations, and professional organizations also offer healthcare insurance policies.
Just like how you can get insurance at better rates through your employer, you might also get a policy here at more efficient premiums because of applicable group rates.
Keep in mind that even if your organization is non-profit, it can be linked to a for-profit insurance provider that exclusively sells policies to members of that organization.
4. Browse Enrollment Websites
Some insurance providers partner with the ACA Marketplace and run websites for enrollment.
Insurance providers that run certified enrollment websites work to make their service easier to operate and more effective in helping people choose their healthcare policies.
Thus, they have features like smart comparisons that make it easier for you to compare multiple policies to see which best fits your requirements.
However, you should keep in mind that these enrollment websites also work for their interests.
They gain money through commissions on the policies that you buy, which means they’re more likely to recommend expensive insurance policies to get a bigger commission. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since you’ll still get the protection you need, but you also have to be aware that there may be more options than what they show you.
Another potential disadvantage is that these enrollment websites may gather personal data that the ACA Marketplace itself will not. Information like biological data, preexisting conditions, and more can be compiled and even utilized to market other products aside from insurance.
5. Buy Directly From an Insurance Provider
While the health insurance marketplace is an excellent resource for healthcare policies, not every policy is sold there.
Some insurance providers, such as Magnum Insurance, offer comprehensive and competitive insurance plans that might suit you better than what you find on the marketplace.
When shopping for policies directly from insurers, make sure that you compare offerings from different providers before deciding on one.
Also, even though you’re not buying from the Marketplace, it’s a good idea to pick ACA-compliant policies. These policies follow the government’s standards of benefits and coverage, including coverage of pre-existing conditions, preventative healthcare, and more.
You can also buy non-ACA compliant insurance, though, especially if you’re just buying for the short term while being in between providers. Just be sure that you know what you’re getting into.
Even though having some kind of protection is better than nothing, non-compliant policies can give you far fewer benefits than what you may be expecting.
Buying Insurance the Right Way Through Magnum Insurance
Buying your first insurance policy can be a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. At Magnum Insurance, we can guarantee that getting a policy that satisfies all of your healthcare needs is quick and painless.
Whether you’re looking for comprehensive ACA compliant policies or short-term non-compliant policies, we have everything here. Your healthcare insurance convenience is just one short phone call away. Give us a call today!
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