If you don’t qualify for lower costs based on your income, you can get coverage 4 ways according to HealthCare.gov:
- Directly from an insurer. You can contact any health insurance company and see plans available in your area. Many have websites that let you compare all plans available from that company. Our site offers all plans both on the healthcare.gov and plans outside the marketplace.
- With the help of an insurance agent or broker. Agents generally work for a single health insurance company. Brokers generally sell plans from a number of companies. They can help you compare plans based on features and price and complete your enrollment. You don’t pay more by using an agent or broker. They’re generally paid by the insurance company whose plans they sell.
- From an online health insurance seller. These online services offer health plans from a number of insurance companies. They let you compare prices and features and then enroll with the insurance company.
- Through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can apply and enroll through the Marketplace whether or not you qualify for lower costs based on your income.
Do I Have to Use the Marketplace To Get a Marketplace Plan?
The only way to get a marketplace plan or cost assistance is through your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace. That being said, some major brokers and providers can help you find out if you qualify for subsidizes and some can help you enroll in a marketplace plan. So in some cases you have your choice between getting help from your state’s marketplace or from an outside broker or agent. The benefit to choosing an agent outside the marketplace (like us) is that they can present other non-marketplace plan options too.
The Bottom Line on Off-Marketplace Health Plans
In summary shopping around for quotes on health plans is a smart move every open enrollment. The more you understand what the private insurance market offers, the better your chances of finding the best plan for you. That being said, if you qualify for cost assistance your best choice will almost always be a subsidized marketplace plan.