What Is the Health Insurance Marketplace?


Quick Answer

The Health Insurance Marketplace, run by the U.S government, is a source of information on health plan coverage, benefits, costs, choices and enrollment for people and businesses, according to HealthCare.gov. Consumers access the Marketplace through call centers, websites and in person. The Marketplace also provides information about Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as ways to help individuals with low or modest incomes pay for coverage. Private health plans offer competitive health coverage through each state's Marketplace.

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Full Answer

The Health Insurance Marketplace offers consumers ways to save on their monthly health care insurance premiums and out-of-pocket coverage costs, notes HealthCare.gov. Some states allow the federal government to operate their marketplaces, while other states operate their own.

Under the Affordable Care Act, there is an open enrollment period each year to allow consumers to enroll in an insurance plan through the Marketplace, explains HealthCare.gov. Plans and prices are available at the Marketplace shortly before the open enrollment period begins. As of 2015, once the open enrollment period ends, those who have not enrolled cannot enroll in a health insurance plan through the Marketplace for the year, unless they meet the requirements for a special enrollment period. However, individuals and families who qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program can apply and enroll at any time.

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