Having health insurance can help reduce the significant financial outlay that often occurs if you become ill or are injured. The options listed here represent three of the most common ways to obtain health care coverage.
1. From an Employer
Because the Affordable Care Act imposes penalties on large employers who fail to offer health insurance to their staff, there is an understandable incentive for companies to provide this benefit. There are guidelines in place as to how many employees must be offered insurance, as well as what levels of coverage and affordability are made available. Dependents must be offered coverage as well, but be aware that it is not mandatory that spouses or legal partners be included. Employer-sponsored health insurance will often be your most affordable option, as companies have the ability to negotiate lower rates based on their group size and must meet specific standards regarding affordability.
While small companies are not penalized if they don’t offer health insurance, many choose to do so as a way to attract and keep good employees. In fact, it’s estimated that more than half of all health insurance coverage nationwide is provided by employers. If you have a full-time job, chances are you will be able to obtain your health insurance as part of a group plan at your workplace. Your company’s benefits coordinator or human resources department should be able to advise you regarding your options.
2. Through the Marketplace
The ACA, also frequently referred to as “Obamacare,” mandated the establishment of state-run insurance “Marketplace” programs to make health insurance available for purchase by all US tax residents. Savings and tax credits are often given through the Marketplace for people who have no other affordable resource for coverage. While job-based health insurance is frequently more affordable than Marketplace plans due to employer contributions, this remains an option for people who are out of work or who can’t afford coverage that is offered by their employer. States have websites and health insurance offices set up to assist you with understanding your options and signing up for a plan.
3. From an Insurance Company
A far less frequently utilized, yet still viable, option for obtaining health insurance is getting an individual plan through an insurance company. In some cases, you can purchase such a plan yourself, while some companies may require that you go through an agent or broker to get a health policy.
Direct-purchase plans are generally more costly than those available from an employer or through the Marketplace, but they remain an alternative. Because both employer-sponsored and Marketplace plans are subject to open enrollment periods and other specific limitations, it may be necessary to seek coverage on your own to avoid being uninsured.
Although you’d probably prefer to be the picture of health, you likely know that having health insurance is important should injury or illness occur. If you’ve never had insurance of your own before, you’ll want to look into these options to ensure you have coverage if and when you need it.