Last updated: February 4, 2019
This section tells you how to use the Marketplace to shop for and buy health insurance coverage.
What is Marketplace Coverage?
The Health Insurance Marketplace, or “the Marketplace,” is the website where you can shop for and choose health insurance. Illinois residents use HealthCare.gov to find health insurance plans on the Marketplace.
If you fill out a Marketplace application, you’ll find out if you can get lower monthly premiums or savings on out-of-pocket costs (e.g., co-pay, deductible) based on your income. You may also find out if you or members of your family qualify for Medicaid or All Kids (the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, in Illinois).
How do I apply for Marketplace Coverage?
You can apply for coverage online at HealthCare.gov. You can also apply by phone, with in-person help (e.g., through a navigator, Certified Application Counselor, broker or other assister), or by mail.
You qualify for a special enrollment period when you have certain life events, like losing health coverage, moving, getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child. You typically have 60 days before and after the event to apply for coverage with a Special Enrollment Period.
Remember, if the system determines you are eligible for Medicaid, it will take longer to apply through the Marketplace. It’s a good idea to check if you should apply for Medicaid first.
Caution: Beware of Short-Term Health Insurance Plans
In Illinois, insurance companies can sell short-term insurance plans that last up to 180 days in a year. Please be aware that these plans do not meet the standards or consumer protections created by the Affordable Care Act.
Short-term insurance plans might seem less expensive, but in reality, they provide limited coverage and big financial risks:
- Can discriminate against people based on pre-existing conditions, gender, age, or other factors by charging them more money or refusing to provide care.
- Do not have to cover essential health benefits like prescription drugs, maternity care, mental health and substance use services, and more.
- Often include dangerous fine print that allows them to deny coverage when consumers are sick or injured.
Your best option is to shop for health insurance on HealthCare.gov so you know you are fully covered.