Obamacare: How to apply and when to apply in 2022

The cost of health insurance in the US can be high, especially if your company doesn’t offer it. If you’re looking for options during the enrollment period this fall, checking out Affordable Care Act health plans is a good place to start.

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, also known as Obamacare, was designed to give more Americans access to affordable health insurance. The law also expands the Medicaid program and supports new medical delivery methods — like ACA Health Homes — that aim to reduce the cost of healthcare. More than 35 million Americans are insured under the Affordable Care Act, President Joe Biden announced Aug. 2.

We’ll let you know when open enrollment for health plans under the Affordable Care Act will begin and how to enroll at HealthCare.gov. For additional reading, here is the best time to do so Start collecting your Social Security benefits.

What health insurance is available under the Affordable Care Act?

The state you live in determines which health care providers you can use, provided you qualify for the Affordable Care Act (see below). Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum options should appear for each plan. Here’s a breakdown of how each plan works.

Bronze: You pay the lowest monthly premium, but you pay more when it comes to paying for care. The Bronze plan deductible is generally much higher than the other options, so you end up paying more out of pocket until your deductible is met.

Silver: This mid-range coverage comes at a modest monthly premium. It will cost you more than the Bronze option, but your medical treatment costs will be less than the Bronze plan.

Gold: This plan comes with a high monthly premium and low cost if you need medical care. A low deductible means you pay far less out-of-pocket medical expenses than with the Bronze and Silver plans.

Platinum: With the most expensive monthly premium you have the lowest costs for medical care. Because the deductible is very low, your plan starts paying for your medical expenses sooner than any of the other options.

Deciding which plan to choose will depend on your lifestyle, how often you need medical care, and what type of medical treatment you need. For example, if you are healthy and anticipate that you will only need to use your insurance for emergencies, you can opt for the Bronze or Silver plan. If you are currently under treatment or expect to need regular medical attention, the Gold and Platinum options could be the best options for you.

If you are under the age of 30 or have an inability to afford health insurance exemption, you may qualify for a contingency plan, which has a very low monthly premium and a very high deductible.

Note that your premium is based on your income. So if you have a lower income, your premium could be lower.

Piggy bank on scattered twenty dollar bills

Spending more on a premium plan can actually save you money in the long run.

Sarah Tew/CNET

How to find out if you are eligible for an Affordable Care Act plan

Before you think about which plan to choose, you should first find out if you are actually entitled to the Affordable Care Act. Go to healthcare.gov/screener/ and enter your zip code. Depending on where you live, you may be redirected to a different website.

Next, answer a few questions to determine if you’re eligible for reduced or full coverage. Once you receive a response, your next step is to complete an application with either the Health Insurance Marketplace or your state’s marketplace to view plans and pricing.

When can you enroll in an Affordable Care Act health plan?

Open enrollment begins November 1st and runs through January 15th. Outside of these dates, you may be eligible for special enrollment. How to qualify:

You had a life-changing event in the last 60 days: Events include the loss of health insurance, a change in household income, the birth of a baby, marriage, divorce, moving to a new zip code, or the death of someone on your Marketplace plan.

Note that if you’ve moved to a new zip code, you’ll need to show that you’ve had at least one day of coverage in the last 60 days or that you’ll lose coverage in the next 60 days. Even if you’ve lost your job and decide not to accept COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) coverage, you can still sign up for a Marketplace plan.

You are applying for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): If you apply to one of these programs, you can always apply for health insurance through the Marketplace.

Other life circumstances you might qualify:

  • you come out of jail
  • You just became a US citizen
  • You begin or end your service with AmeriCorps
  • You have achieved membership in a federally recognized tribe or status as a shareholder of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation

To see if you qualify for special registration, follow the steps above at healthcare.gov/screener/. If you are eligible, your health insurance plan will begin on the first of the month following your enrollment. For example, if you enroll in August, your coverage will begin on September 1st.

Crumpled Crumpled Dollar Bill

A change in household income could qualify you for special filing.

James Martin/CNET

How to apply for Obamacare

Once you’re ready to enroll — whether between November 1 and January 15 or through a special registry — you’ll need to create an account on HealthCare.gov or through your state’s provider. You then fill out the application to view plans and pricing, and choose which option works best for you.

Things you may need during the application:

  • social security numbers for everyone on your application
  • Employer and income information for everyone in your household
  • Current health insurance numbers (if applicable)
  • You can obtain information on health insurance from your employer
  • immigration documentation

Again, after you sign up, your plan should start on the first of the month following your signup date, provided you have paid your first month’s premium.

After you sign up, look for your health insurance card in the mail, as well as other information about your chosen health plan.

More information about healthcare can be found here how the lack of COVID funds is affecting Americans without health insurance. Also, here’s how to find out if your The health insurance covers the online therapy and the best telemedicine services for family doctor visits.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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