In order to make signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act as easy as possible, the Obama administration has set up a central website, Healthcare.gov, to handle applications. Entering your information into this site allows the site to guide you through the process of establishing health insurance for yourself and your family.
- Check your enrollment eligibility
Enrollment is not available year-round. Each year there is an open enrollment period. In 2014, for instance, anyone can sign up for plans between November 15th and February 15, 2015. However, if you have recently lost coverage, gotten married or divorced or moved to another state, you may have a 60-day special enrollment window to apply for new coverage through the marketplace. Check the Healthcare.gov website for full details on qualifying life events.
- Apply through the online marketplace
The online application guides you through the process of signing up for insurance, including a referral to your state's marketplace if necessary. Not every state set up its own insurance marketplace, so some consumers have to purchase their insurance through the national site. The system makes that determination and highlights any other possible options, such as applying for Medicaid coverage.The system also helps calculate any subsidies you might receive to help pay for insurance.
- Complete the application, and make your payment
Once you have signed up for your new insurance plan, make your first payment, and you are covered. Check your plan documents to determine when payments are due.