Obamacare, one of the most polarizing words in healthcare today. The term, originally coined by Republicans looking to diminish the efforts of President Obama lofty goal of making health insurance accessible to everyone, is used to describe the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
For many, Obamacare’s health insurance marketplace, or exchange, put coverage within reach for the first time. This was especially the case for anyone living with pre-existing conditions, chronic health problems, or working with an extremely tight budget. Through the marketplace, health insurance companies were no longer able to deny coverage based on your medical history, and low-income individuals and families were eligible for subsidized medical insurance. The majority of states also expanded their Medicaid programs, which was another way to help everyone afford health coverage.
If you’re looking for health insurance in 2019, the Obamacare marketplace is definitely an option you want to explore. Even though the ACA has provided health insurance to tons of Americans, it’s still the healthcare industry, meaning it can get a bit complicated If you’re confused about how to get started, here’s how to apply for Obamacare in 2019.
How To Apply For Obamacare
If you’re wondering how or where to apply for Obamacare, there are currently 4 ways different routes you can take, and each will be outlined below. Regardless of which method you choose, everyone will end up with an ACA health insurance plan. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Applying for Obamacare online is the most popular option among Americans today, which makes sense since it’s the most convenient. Regardless of where you live, getting started with your online application begins with visiting the Obamacare official site www.healthcare.gov.
From there, depending on the state your looking to get covered in, you may be redirected. There a few states that created their own health insurance marketplace, which includes:
- District of Columbia
- New York
- Rhode Island
Getting to the right website is half the battle. From there, all you have to do is follow the instructions provided to you. Since health insurance plans and pricing vary by state, you’re going to be asked for your zip code, followed up by a couple questions like your income and household size, which we’ll go into more detail about a little bit later.
Another popular option for applying to for Obamacare plans is by mail. While mailing in your application may not be as efficient or convenient as applying online, it’s still fairly simple. All you have to do is download the Marketplace Application PDF, which you can find here. There is also a helpful instructional document that you can download as well to help you get through the process, or you can call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596…
From there, you will be prompted to fill out your information, which means its a good idea to have all the proper documents handy. That includes things like your W2 form income taxes, social security, and similar information. Once completed, you’ll want to send your application to the following address:
Health Insurance Marketplace
Dept. of Health and Human Services
465 Industrial Blvd.
London, KY 40750-0001
After mailing in your Obamacare application, you’ll have to wait about 2 weeks until you receive your eligibility results. Also, if you didn’t fill out all of your information correctly, don’t worry. The marketplace recommends sending in your application anyways, you just may receive a call to verify a couple of things.
If you don’t have access to a computer, or are having difficulty with your application, another great way to apply for Obamacare coverage is by phone. You can get in touch with the health insurance Marketplace Call Center by calling:
You can give this number a call at any time, they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (with the exception of holidays). An experienced representative will walk you through your coverage options, and let you know if you are eligible for any subsidies or financial assistance. They will also review the plans available to you, so if you’re more comfortable walking through your options with someone who is in the know, then this may be a good option for you.
In Person With Assisters
The last option you have is to apply for Obamacare in person, with the help of experienced marketplace assisters. These are people who have gone through training to help individuals and families like yourself fill out their applications accurately. You can quickly and easily find an assister in your area today by entering your zip code here.
Help On Demand
Getting help with your Affordable Care Act application was made a little easier with the addition of Help On Demand, a place where you can request an assister reach out to you and provide assistance. By entering your information, you can choose to either get assistance with your ACA application by email or phone. You’ll also be able to choose the language you feel most comfortable using.
What Are Obamacare Marketplace Plans?
If you’re still confused as to what an Obamacare plan really is, you’re not alone. Many people think that Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act health insurance plans run by the federal or state government, but that’s not the case.
When you enroll in health coverage through the marketplace, you’re actually enrolling in health insurance through a private health insurance company. When people mention Obamacare plans, what they are referring to are marketplace plans. The only differences between traditional health coverage and Obamacare coverage is when you can enroll, the ability to qualify for subsidies, plans adhering to federal regulations, and the fact you can’t be denied coverage or charged more because of you medical history.
Is There A Minimum Income To Apply For Obamacare?
Contrary to what you may have heard, there is no income limit to apply for Obamacare. Any and everyone is eligible to apply, although subsidies, premium tax credits, and financial assistance may be determined by your income level.
Currently, income limits for for the financial assistance options listed above are based on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) which can vary by state. For a better breakdown, view the official FPL income limits here.
Qualify For Free Obamacare
If you’re income level falls between 100% - 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, then you may be eligible for subsidized health insurance through the marketplace, although that isn’t free. To get free health insurance, you would have to qualify for Medicaid, but even then, you may still have to pay up. You can learn more about qualifying for Medicaid here, but in short, if the either of the following applies to you, then you may be eligible:
- Income Less than 138% of the FPL - If you live in a state that expanded Medicaid, you’ll be eligible for Medicaid based on income.
- Income Less than 100% of the FPL - If you live in a state that hasn’t yet expanded their Medicaid program, you won’t qualify for either income based Medicaid or subsidies. However, depending on the rules of where you live, you may still qualify for Medicaid through your state.
When Can You Enroll In Obamacare?
You can apply and enroll for Obamacare plans during the Open Enrollment Period each year. However, outside of the Open Enrollment Period, you will not be able to apply for, or enroll in ACA plans unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
ACA Special Enrollment Periods
Special Enrollment Periods give you the opportunity to enroll in Obamacare plans outside of Open Enrollment, and is a 60 day period. You are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period only if you qualify with an IRS Qualifying Life Event (QLE), which you can learn more about.
Can You Still Enroll In Obamacare?
With today’s political climate, it’s understandable that people are confused about the state of Obamacare, so here’s the deal. Obamacare is still alive and well, and will be until the GOP finds a way to repeal replace it. That being said, as mentioned above, unless it is currently Open Enrollment or you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you won’t be able to enroll in Obamacare plans.