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5 tips about the Health Insurance Marketplace


Here’s a quick look at the Health Insurance Marketplace (sometimes known as the health insurance “exchange” or “Obamacare exchange”).

See 2017 plans & prices now.

Answer a few fast questions to preview plans with personalized price estimates.


1. The Health Insurance Marketplace is for people who don’t have health coverage

If you don’t have health insurance through a job, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),
or another source that provides qualifying coverage
, the Marketplace can help you get covered.

  • If you have job-based insurance: You can buy a plan through the Marketplace, but you’ll pay full price unless your job-based insurance doesn't meet certain standards. Most job-based plans do.
  • If you have Medicare: You can’t switch to Marketplace insurance, supplement your coverage with a Marketplace plan, or buy a Marketplace dental plan. 
2. 2017 Open Enrollment runs from November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017
  • Enroll by December 15, 2016 for coverage starting January 1, 2017.
  • After January 31, you can enroll in 2017 health insurance only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

3. What you pay for insurance depends on your income — and you’ll probably save

Your savings depend on your expected household income for the year. Over 8 in 10 people who apply are eligible to save, and most can find plans for between $50 and $100 per month (after accounting for their tax premium tax credit).

Based on your income estimate, we'll tell you if you qualify for:

A health insurance plan with savings

You may qualify for a premium tax credit that lowers your monthly insurance bill, and for extra savings on out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copayments.

The plans are offered by private insurance companies with a range of prices and features. All plans cover:

You can add dental, but you don’t have to.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Medicaid and CHIP provide free or low-cost coverage to millions of people and families with limited income, disabilities, and some other situations.

  • Many states are expanding Medicaid to cover all households below certain incomes. 

  • Your children may qualify for CHIP even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid.

4. You can apply for coverage 4 ways
Apply any way that works for you:

  • Online

  • By phone

  • With in-person help

  • With a paper application

5. If you don’t have health insurance, you may have to pay a fee
Most people must have qualifying health coverage or pay a penalty.

  • For 2016, the penalty is either 2.5% of your income, or $695 per adult ($347.50 per child) — whichever is higher. The fee rises with inflation. Final 2017 fees will be published soon.

  • Some people qualify for an exemption from the health insurance requirement.

IMPORTANT: Still need 2016 health coverage?
If you still need health insurance coverage for the rest of 2016, you can get it only 2 ways:

  • If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to a life event — like losing health coverage, getting married, or having a baby.

  • If you qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). You can apply for these programs any time.

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