How to Find Health Insurance: 3 Affordable Alternatives to Obamacare

how to find health insurance

When I first signed up for health insurance through Healthcare.gov, it was great.

I got a great plan from Humana for my husband and me for about $600 a month with a low deductible. It also included all of my doctors and prescriptions.

But this year, I got a letter from Healthcare.gov stating that my insurer was no longer offering my plan in my state. In fact, they were leaving the Health Insurance Marketplace entirely.

To make matters worse, another plan comparable to what I already had would cost an additional $450 a month. My monthly premiums would now be $1,050 a month for two healthy adults on a bronze plan. That’s the lowest tier of coverage offered through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Moreover, the new plan didn’t cover my current primary doctor or one of the medications I took regularly.

I’m shopping around for other insurance plans now, and I know I’m certainly not alone. Millions of people are looking for alternatives to Obamacare enrollment now that so many changes have taken place.

Here are a few different ways you can find options for health insurance that you can actually afford.

Issues with the Affordable Care Act

President Obama signed the ACA, also called Obamacare insurance, into law in March 2010.

It was designed to make insurance available to all, regardless of pre-existing health conditions or employment status. However, issues have plagued the initiative since it launched.

While the Obama administration intended the ACA to make health care more affordable, in some cases, it no longer is. Recent developments have caused premiums to spike and for some people to lose coverage altogether.

Many are questioning the viability of the ACA, too. In 2016, several insurance companies pulled out of the Health Insurance Marketplace, citing huge financial losses.

Aetna, UnitedHealth Group, and Humana all but stopped offering insurance plans. They only cover just a small fraction of counties across the country.

That development hurt the ACA hard and left millions of people–like me–scrambling to find a new plan they could afford.

With fewer options now in the Health Insurance Marketplace, many people face higher premiums and less coverage than they previously paid for.

How to find health insurance alternatives

However, even if you do not have access to an employer-offered health insurance plan, you have other options besides those offered through the Affordable Care Act.

Take some time and research alternatives during the Open Enrollment period, which ends on January 31, 2017. You could, in fact, end up saving money in the process. Here are a few options to get you started.

1. Look for a health insurance broker

An insurance broker can shop around for a policy for you and your family that meets the ACA minimum requirements. This will help you avoid paying the penalty for inadequate coverage.

A broker can also look for plans offered outside of the Health Insurance Marketplace, including from companies that do not participate in the ACA.

Check out the National Association of Health Underwriters to find a licensed health insurance agent near you.

2. Check out Costco

Costco doesn’t just offer a great deal on bulk items. It’s also a fantastic resource for individual and family health insurance policies.

Although you have to be a Costco member to be eligible for insurance, membership only costs $55 year. But it’s a worthwhile expense, trust me.

Many of their plans are more competitively priced than plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace. They also offer health insurance policies that satisfy the ACA requirements and plans that are supplemental.

Please note, Costco insurance is not available in all counties. So be sure to check online if you are eligible before signing up for a store membership card.

3. Get a catastrophic-only plan, accept the penalty

If you are young, relatively healthy, and do not often go to the doctor, you may not need a comprehensive insurance plan that covers wellness visits and preventative care.

But that doesn’t mean that health insurance isn’t important. It’s a buffer against unexpected (and sometimes costly) medical emergencies. If you’re in a car accident, for instance, hospital bills could bankrupt you.

A catastrophic-only plan can provide a necessary safety net at a fraction of the cost of a traditional plan. Even when combined with the ACA penalty, you could end up saving money.

I’ll admit, with my premiums now topping $1,050 a month for a basic plan, I’m starting to question whether I really need to see my primary doctor regularly. And if my husband and I go forward with the ACA plan, our annual premium will cost $12,600.

However, the penalty for going without insurance under the ACA is currently $695 per person. So the penalty for my husband and I to skip the ACA-qualifying coverage would be $1,390 for the year.

When I looked for a major medical-only plan, I found one for the two of us for $150 a month. That would bring our annual cost to just $1,800.

So even with the $1,390 penalty added on, our health care costs would be just $3,190 a year instead of $12,600. That’s a whopping annual saving of $9,410.

Of course, going that route is a gamble. If either of us experiences an ongoing health issue and needs regular care, we’ll have to pay for it out of pocket. And that can get expensive quickly.

But if we’re able to save over $9,000 next year, you can bet it’s an option we’re seriously considering.

Looking for healthcare

Trying to figure out how to find health insurance that is affordable and covers your needs can be challenging.

But it’s important to remember you have more options than just what the ACA offers. Don’t hesitate to shop around to get the best policy for you. Finding a viable alternative may help you stay on budget, too.

And if you want to find out more about factors that affect your health insurance costs and what you should know before selecting a plan, check out our comprehensive guide on the topic.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print, understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.