People apply for government health care online through Healthcare.gov, over the phone, with a mail-in application or in person through a recognized local affiliate, as of 2015. States that do not participate in the federal health insurance exchange have individual websites and application processes, accessible through Healthcare.gov.
In order to apply online, applicants create an account to determine eligibility and available insurance plans. Applicants need tax and income documentation, a Social Security Number and policy information of current health insurance, if applicable. Some states have different required documentation to apply. The primary period of enrollment is from November to February of each year. Exceptions exist for those applying for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, people with life changes such as a pregnancy or job loss, and patients with unexpected health problems.
Those who qualify for Medicaid have an income below a certain level, which varies by state. Other factors, such as disability status, age, household size, long-term care needs and pregnancy status, determine Medicaid eligibility. The cost of Medicaid plans and coverage also varies by state; however, there are federal requirements for basic coverage. The Children’s Health Insurance Program covers children with parents who have too high an income to qualify for Medicaid.