What are my health insurance options?
If you’re looking for individual health insurance or family health insurance, you probably have some ideas of what you need, but not really what’s available.
You can try searching for cheap health insurance, affordable health insurance, reliable health coverage, even the best health insurance for the money. However, the health plans you find through these general searches might not always apply to you.
Before you sort through those searches, this quick guide to individual health insurance plans can help you understand what you might find.
Need coverage now – Short term health insurance
If you lost coverage or are coming off some other insurance, short term medical insurance might work as the right health plan for you while you find more permanent health coverage. Often called term medical insurance or temporary medical insurance, short term medical plans are designed to give health coverage during a limited series of months.
Short term health insurance in a nutshell
- Not intended to be primary medical insurance, and doesn’t have the same benefits as Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance. Plans vary widely in what they cover.
- Generally less expensive than ACA coverage, but you may be subject to a tax penalty.
- Application includes a series of medical questions to determine if you qualify for coverage.
- Preexisting conditions are typically not covered.
- You can apply at any time, all year round, and in many cases get covered as soon as the next day.
See what short term plans are available in your state.
65 or over – Explore your Medicare options
If you’re 65 or older, or are under 65 with a qualifying disability or condition, Medicare is very likely your best health insurance option.
Medicare in a nutshell
- Get coverage in every major medical area. Medicare Part A for hospital insurance, Part B for doctor visits or lab work, and Part D for prescription drug coverage.
- Pick up a Medicare Supplement plan (also called Medigap) to cover areas Medicare itself doesn’t.
- Or, combine Part A, Part B and even Part D drug coverage in a single Medicare Advantage plan (referred to as Medicare Part C).
- Generally, enrollment for Medicare is three months before and after the month you turn 65.
Coverage for the long term – Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans
Commonly called Obamacare, ACA coverage may not always seem like affordable health insurance at first. However, if you have preexisting conditions or need medical coverage for an extended period of time, an ACA plan may be your best option. It can even be less expensive than you think if you qualify for a tax credits or subsidies.
ACA insurance in a nutshell
- Guaranteed issue. You can’t be turned down for coverage or charged more based on preexisting health conditions.
- Tax credits and subsidies could help with your costs depending on how much you earn.
- Plans cover a consistent set of ten essential health benefits, including preventive care, maternity care, and prescription coverage.
- Unless you qualify for a special enrollment, you must enroll during the annual open enrollment, usually in November and December.
Call 1-800-980-5213 for more information on ACA health plans.
Help with out-of-pocket costs – Additional insurance options
Hospital and doctor fixed indemnity plans2
- Hospital and doctor fixed indemnity insurance pays a predetermined amount of cash after you receive a specific medical service covered by the plan.
- Plans vary in what’s covered, and most don’t cover anything related to preexisting conditions.
- Generally, you can apply any time but must answer a series of medical questions to qualify.
- Pays benefits regardless of other coverage. The cash you get can be used to help offset expenses not covered by your main insurance.
See what hospital and doctor plans are available in your state.
Critical illness insurance or accident insurance
- Can help with the financial strain that often comes with unexpected injury or illness.
- Critical illness insurance, also called critical care insurance or critical illness coverage, pays a lump sum cash benefit following diagnosis of a qualifying illness like cancer or a stroke or heart attack. Learn More
- Accident insurance, also called personal accident insurance or supplement accident insurance, helps pay medical costs from unexpected injuries. Learn More