Signing up for Obamacare: My Experience

Signing up for Obamacare on HealthCare.gov during their Special Enrollment Period was a big part of what made quitting my job possible. (Open enrollment for 2015 starts November 15, but I didn’t need to wait for that because I met the qualifying event rules.)

Applying for coverage

My experience getting signed up on healthcare.govI was a little nervous about applying for coverage after all the crap I’d heard on the news last year, but seriously? It was the easiest insurance enrollment I’ve ever done.

I just had to create an account, answer a few questions that showed I qualified for the special enrollment period, and pick a plan. That was it.

The plan I picked has better coverage and costs less overall than what I’d had through my job. All I had to do next was call up the insurance company and pay my premium.

What a contrast

I really couldn’t get over the difference between getting health insurance on the marketplace, and what getting coverage used to be like for me.

No paying a fortune to have crappy coverage and a $10,000 deductible from a carrier I’d never heard of before the one time I was able to get private health insurance. No paying more because I am a woman. No spending hours giving an insurance broker 10 years of my medical history, and then being denied coverage for private insurance due to a pre-existing condition. No being stuck with choosing the best plan I could afford from work out of the limited options that were first chosen for me, and then having that plan not cover even part of my medications until I’d paid out the entire deductible.

Instead, I got to pick the plan that fit best from a lot of options.

Your mileage may vary

Of course, I don’t know what your past and present experiences with insurance are like or what the healthcare marketplace choices are in your state, so your mileage may vary.

But I will give one tip: Take a look at ALL of the plans available in your area. (Don’t just choose one level and look through the options within that level.) Some of the silver and gold plans in my area were significantly better than the bronze plans for very little price difference. The levels appear to be based on what they cover, not how much the plans cost.

When looking through the plans, make sure the one you choose is going to work for your individual situation. (My husband and I got separate plans for that very reason.) Focus on what the plans you’re interested in will cover for what you’ll pay, and don’t forget to take the potential impact of having to pay the deductible into consideration.

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4 comments

  • I just helped my sister-in-law sign up, which was my first experience with it. I felt that a lot of what you said were very much in line with our experience. In her case, she had a dollar amount of what she wanted to pay, and with that in mind, we looked at the best options available to her knowing her expected payment.

  • I have my own through work, but one day we had a customer come in that was hanging out and using our wi-fi and was searching through the list of insurances and asked for some help. It was interesting to see all the different options. Ultimately you can’t really tell someone what to do, but its good to have options.

  • As someone who had to use COBRA, paying over $500/month because I had pre-existing conditions and no one would cover me, I am so happy that we now have the ACA. Yes, right now my insurance though work is fine but what happens when I want to retire, or I change to another employer? We are so lucky now.

  • I wrote about my experience signing up through my state exchange back in May, and agree with you- it was a pretty quick and painless process.
    Mine was a little more complicated. I did have to scan in some documents to show why I qualified for special enrollment and to verify our income (since we qualified for a tax subsidy). But the site told me in advance exactly what I would need, so with the exception of searching my files for that paperwork, it took less than half an hour for me to get in and get C and I covered. It was great because I got to stick with the insurance provider we have had for the last 10 years (a managed care organization), so that none of our doctors had to change.
    Now, I’m going in the opposite direction. I start a new job on Monday, and due to the income change (as in going from being on unemployment to actually earning a salary), we will no longer qualify for the subsidy. I called today to find out what I would need to do, and once again, it will be simple.
    Once my income change has been sustained for 2 months, I just scan in new documents and send them to the exchange. (Of course, that means I won’t qualify for the subsidy for about 2 weeks, and then will have employer provided coverage again next year.)