All ACA plans are required to cover the same set of essential health benefits, such as hospital services, doctor visits, diagnostic tests, emergency room care and other vital services. All your preexisting conditions will be covered.
The plans available through private insurance companies are organized by categories named for metals. Each category has a different combination of premiums, deductible and copays to meet varying health and financial needs.
Lowest monthly premiums
Highest deductibles and copays
Plans designed to cover you in case of serious sickness or injury
Most popular plan category
Moderate monthly premiums
Moderate deductibles and copays
Only plans in this category are eligible for cost-sharing subsidies
Plans designed to trade a slightly higher monthly premium for more coverage of routine health care
High monthly premiums
Lower deductibles and copays
Plans designed for people willing to trade higher monthly premiums for more coverage of routine care costs.
Highest monthly premium
Lowest deductibles and copays
Plans designed for those who need a lot of care and are willing to pay a very high premium.
What are ACA subsidies?
Premium tax credit
This tax credit lowers the monthly premium for those who qualify. How much you qualify for depends on your income. For 2021 and 2022, federal law says you will never have to pay more than 8.5 percent of your income for an ACA premium.
If you qualify for a premium subsidy — or tax credit — the federal government will pay the amount of the tax credit you qualify for directly to your health plan and you'll pay your portion. Or, you can elect to pay the full premium and take the tax credit when you file your income taxes.
The current special enrollment period lasts until Aug. 15.
Your coverage takes effect the first of the month after you apply. For example, if you apply by April 30, your coverage starts May 1. But if you apply May 10 you'll have to wait until June 1 for the coverage to kick in.
If you have a life-changing event such as the loss of job-related health insurance or loss of insurance through your spouse, you may apply at any time during the year.
The usual ACA open enrollment period begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.
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