Insurance Options

If you need health insurance, it’s important to know all of your choices for job-based, public, and private coverage. These options have already expanded under the Affordable Care Act, and will continue to grow in 2014 and beyond.

What are my options for job-based coverage?

If you don’t have coverage, you may be eligible for health insurance coverage through work – your own job or that of your spouse or parent.
If an employer offers coverage, you generally can’t be turned away or charged a higher premium because of your health status or disability. This protection is called “nondiscrimination.”
Employers may refuse or restrict coverage for other reasons (such as part-time employment), as long as these are unrelated to your health status and are applied consistently.
If you get job-based coverage, you have certain protections. Learn about your rights and protections under health insurance through work.  You can also visit the Department of Labor’s Consumer Information on Health Plans Web page for more information.
For more resources and, in some states, phone and email assistance: Use our map to find help in your state.

What are my options if I can’t get coverage through work?

If you can’t get insurance through your or your spouse’s employer, you have a number of options:
  • Insurance Under a Parent’s Policy: If you are under 26, you may be eligible for coverage under your parent’s insurance policy. Learn more about coverage for young adults under age 26.
  • Individual Insurance Policies: If you cannot get health insurance through work, you may be able to buy a health insurance policy for yourself or your family. Be aware that policies are often expensive, and that until 2014 you can be charged more, be rejected for coverage, or have your coverage restricted due to a health condition or other factors.

    To get started looking for a private insurance plan, use the insurance and coverage finder.

    For background on the private insurance marketplace, visit our “Insurance Basics” section.
  • Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan: If you have a pre-existing health condition and have been uninsured for the past six months, you may qualify for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) created under the Affordable Care Act. Learn more about the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

    Some states have additional insurance plans for residents with pre-existing health conditions. You can use our insurance and coverage finder to learn whether there are other options in your state.
  • Medicaid: Each state operates a Medicaid program that provides health coverage for lower-income people, families and children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The eligibility rules for Medicaid are different for each state, but most states offer coverage for adults with children at some income level.

    Beginning in 2014, most adults under age 65 with individual incomes up to about $15,000 per year will qualify for Medicaid in every state.

    To learn more about your state Medicaid program and other options available to you, use the insurance and coverage finder.  
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): All states provide coverage for children through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Your children are likely to be eligible for coverage if your income is up to about $45,000 per year (for a family of four).

    To learn more about coverage for children and other options available to you, use the insurance and coverage finder.
  • Free or low-cost care: If you are unable to afford insurance coverage, there are health clinics in your community that provide free or reduced-cost services on a sliding scale, depending on your income. Learn more about free or low-cost care.

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