Although only 37% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) directly affects almost everyone.
Its most notable feature is that consumers must obtain minimum essential health insurance that fulfills specific Obamacare requirements.
In most circumstances, both state and federal agencies have created health care exchanges – virtual marketplaces where Americans can shop for qualifying health insurance plans. But those aren’t the only ways to find coverage.
The much maligned HealthCare.gov remains the largest clearinghouse for health plan information, and choosing a specific plan there – or through many state exchanges – can be a tedious experience.
While it’s clear we have choices in coverage (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum levels), it’s a lesser known fact that consumers also have options in shopping for a policy. Health care consumers continue to report less than optimal shopping experiences using the state and federal online portals.
So where else can you find qualified plans? Following are a few alternatives that comply with the law and give you greater choice:
• Health insurance carriers – Many don’t realize that you can go directly to an insurance provider to buy coverage.
If you find your state’s exchange confusing, its insurance department can be helpful in simply finding a carrier through which you can apply directly. Here is a map of state insurance departments to get you started.
• Health insurance brokers – These are people who specialize in helping you navigate the options available through Obamacare.
The main consideration here is that not all agents will carry all policies available in your area; it might benefit you to talk with 2 to 3 agents to realize all your options.
Here’s a link to the National Association of Health Underwriters. Just enter your zip code to find members.
• Online marketplaces – A number of online resources are available to make your navigation of Obamacare less complicated. HealthPocket; Health eDeals; and eHealth are three popular sites with comprehensive plan comparisons.
While these options offer consumers alternatives to the traditional exchanges, only those state and federal exchanges can offer the subsidies that so many American seek to obtain in helping with costs.