It’s now a fact of life – you have to carry health insurance (H.I.), or you will be fined. But what if you missed the deadline and don’t want to buy a policy from a health exchange? There are alternatives:
- Insurance agents outside of marketplaces: This is often an excellent option. Insurance agents can help you compare coverage options. They can also help review each plan’s provider network so you don’t discover later that your preferred healthcare providers aren’t in your plan’s network. Working one-on-one with an agent who knows your situation helps prevent mistakes or plan gaps.
- Group plans through employer-sponsored family member plans and professional associations: If you qualify for a family member’s plan, it’s worth investigating. However, do compare the costs to private individual plans, as it’s sometimes more expensive to join an employer-sponsored plan. Group plans are often offered through professional organizations or associations. But in many cases, organizations have contracts with carriers, who pay the association to offer their plans. This could work for you, but it also may mean fewer plan choices, and make comparisons difficult.
When opting for plans outside of the insurance marketplaces, ensure they comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) for good coverage and to avoid fines.
However, if you don’t have a health insurance policy at all, you’re risking much more than a fine. If a major health issue arises, you could wind up paying more out of your pocket than you would in years’ worth of fines. Make sure to research your health insurance options before purchasing.