Affordable Care Act Health Insurance: How and When to Enroll in 2022

Health insurance can be expensive in the US, especially when your company doesn’t provide it. If you’re looking for options during the enrollment period this fall, checking out health plans through the Affordable Care Act is a good way to start.

Enacted by former President Barack Obama in 2010, the Affordable Care Act was designed to give more Americans access to affordable health insurance. The law also expands the Medicaid program and supports new methods of delivering medical services, such as ACA Health Homes — which aim to reduce health care costs. More than 35 million Americans are enrolled in coverage under the Affordable Care Act, President Joe Biden announced August 2nd.

We will let you know when open enrollment begins for health plans under the Affordable Care Act and how to enroll in For further reading, this is the best time to start collecting your Social Security benefits.

What health insurance plans are available under the Affordable Care Act?

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

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

Silver: This intermediate coverage comes with a moderate monthly premium. It will cost you more than the Bronze option, but your medical treatment costs will be lower than if you opted for the Bronze plan.

Prayed: This plan includes a high monthly premium and low costs when you need health care. A low deductible means that the amount of medical costs you will pay out of pocket will be much less than with the Bronze and Silver plans.

Platinum: The highest monthly premium gives you the lowest costs when it comes to health care. Since the deductible is so low, your plan will start paying your medical costs sooner than any of the other options.

Deciding which plan to choose depends on your lifestyle, how often you’ll need medical care, and what type of medical treatment you need. For example, if you are in good health and only expect to need to use your insurance for emergencies, you can opt for the Bronze or Silver plan. If you are currently undergoing treatment or expect to need regular medical care, the Gold and Platinum options may be the best options for you.

If you are under 30 years old or have a exemption based on the inability to pay for health insurance, you may qualify for a catastrophic planwhich has a very low monthly premium and a very high deductible.

Keep in mind that your premium is based on your income, so if you have a lower income, your premium may be less.

piggy bank placed on top of scattered $20 bills

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

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

Before you start thinking about which plan to choose, you first need to find out if you really qualify for the Affordable Care Act. To go health and enter your zip code. Depending on where you live, you may be redirected to a different website.

Next, you’ll answer a few questions to see if you qualify for discounted or full-price coverage. Once you get an answer, your next step is to complete an application at the Health Insurance Marketplace or your state’s own marketplace to see plans and prices.

When can you join an Affordable Care Act health care plan?

Open enrollment begins November 1 and continues through January 15. Outside of those dates, you may be eligible for special enrollment. This is how you can qualify:

You had a life-changing event in the last 60 days: Events include loss of health coverage, a change in household income, having a baby, getting married, divorced, moving to a new ZIP code, or if someone in your Marketplace plan dies.

Please note that if you moved to a new zip code, you must show that you had insurance for at least one day during the last 60 days, or you will lose coverage in the next 60 days. Also, if you’ve lost your job and decide not to accept COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) coverage, you can still enroll in a Marketplace plan.

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

Other life circumstances that could qualify you:

  • you’re getting out of jail
  • You just became a US citizen
  • You are starting or ending the service in AmeriCorps
  • Obtained membership in a federally recognized tribe or state as a shareholder in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation

To see if you qualify for special enrollment, follow the steps above in health If you are eligible, your health care plan would start on the first day of the month after you enroll. For example, if you join in August, your coverage will start on September 1st.

Crumpled wrinkled dollar bill

A change in household income may qualify you for special enrollment.

James Martin/CNET

How to Enroll in an Affordable Care Act Health Care Plan

Once you are ready to enroll, either between November 1 and January 15 or through special enrollment, you will need to create an account on or through your state provider. You’ll then complete the application to view plans and pricing and select the best option for you.

things you may need while applying:

  • social security numbers for everyone in your app
  • Employer and income information for all members of your household
  • Current health insurance policy numbers (if applicable)
  • Information about health insurance available from your employer
  • immigration documentation

Again, after you enroll, your plan should start on the first day of the month following your enrollment date, assuming you’ve paid your first month’s premium.

Keep an eye out for your insurance card in the mail after you sign up, as well as any other information about the health care plan you chose.

For more information on health care, here it is how COVID underfunding is affecting uninsured Americans. Plus, here’s how to find out if your health insurance covers online therapy and the best telemedicine services for home medical 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 health care provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or health goals.

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