Submitted by Karen Therese
Told that we all need to finish applying for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act by a certain date, many of us are in a panic. Our main instruction has been “Apply online. Visit HealthCare.gov to get started.” But we all know firsthand — or have heard about — the nightmares people have been encountering attempting to sign up by this method.
If you do need to apply for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, there are three additional options of which many are likely unaware, and which may prove easier and more effective than the online route:
1. Apply by phone. People have reported this method to be easier than that of applying online. Call 1–800–318–2596 to enroll. (TTY: 1–855–889–4325).
2. Apply in person. Visit a trained counselor in your community to get information and to apply. The counselor can help you with each step of any of the methods listed here, from navigating each plan online with you or helping you talk to a phone representative, to assisting you in filling out forms in their entirety. Find trained help in your area at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
3. Apply by mail. Complete a paper application and mail it in. You can download the paper application form and instructions from HealthCare.gov.
Note: Before you choose a plan, you will want to explore your options and find the least expensive plan that suits your needs. You can use the calculator at KFF.org (The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation site) to determine which of the plans you qualify for that will be the most affordable.