How to shop for health insurance on October 1

Starting in 2014, Americans must have health insurance or face penalties.  There are three ways in which individuals can get health insurance:

  1. Employer-sponsored coverage
  2. Government programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid
  3. Buying your own

Buying your own insurance can be intimidating.  With so many plans from so many providers, how do you choose the best one for you?

The Affordable Care Act was created to simplify the health insurance shopping experience for individuals.  Starting on October 1, individuals can visit the Health Insurance Marketplace, a one-stop shop for purchasing insurance.  All plans offered in your area have been standardized, compiled and clearly organized to make comparison and selection quick and easy.

The federal government will be running the exchange for Michigan.  Individuals can create an account, apply for coverage, pick a plan and enroll.  If you picked a Blue Cross plan, the marketplace would send the enrollment to Blue Cross, and we will issue you coverage as appropriate.

When you apply for coverage, you will need to provide information about you and your household, such as social security numbers, income, and current insurance.  For a full checklist of what you’ll need to apply, visit Healthcare.gov.

It’s important to note that the Health Insurance Marketplace is the only spot that individuals and small businesses can access a tax credit.  If you do not buy through the Marketplace, you cannot get those subsides.

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