If my employer does not offer health insurance, can I buy an individual policy?
Yes. If you are unemployed, self-employed, or decide to return to school you may want to buy an individual health insurance policy.
Here are a number of options that you may consider:
- Ask your insurance company if you can convert its group policy to an individual policy. You will pay a higher rate than you did before and your benefits may be limited, but the terms will still probably be better than if you buy your own policy.
- If you are married, see if your spouse’s employer will add you to its group plan.
- Try to join a group health plan through a trade association or alumni group or professional association may offer reasonable rates. You can also find a group plan designed specifically for freelance workers. If you are over age 50, you can join the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which offers an extensive plan. Even some credit card companies offer health insurance coverage.
- It is possible also to buy an individual policy. The rates may be high and coverage limited, but it is important that you be protected against financial catastrophe if you, or your family, are hit with a major illness or injury. If you are self-employed, most of the health insurance premium will be tax-deductible.
To find the best policy, contact a health insurance agent or broker who will help you find the contract that gives you the most for your money.
How to buy a Marketplace policy
Most people can shop for coverage in the Marketplace. To be eligible you must live in the state where your Marketplace is, you must be a citizen of the U.S. or be lawfully present in the U.S., and you must not currently be incarcerated.
Not everybody who is eligible to purchase coverage in the Marketplace will be eligible for subsidies, however. To qualify for subsidies (also called premium tax credits) people will have to meet additional requirements having to do with their income and their eligibility for other coverage.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is very fluid with changes coming quite often. To keep up to the changes it is recommended to visit either: http://kff.org or http://www.hhs.gov.