Health Insurance Marketplace. How can I get ready to enroll in the Marketplace?

To prepare to enroll, you can learn about types of health coverage, research your questions, and figure out what you need to know before open enrollment begins.

The Health Insurance Marketplace will help you get coverage that meets your needs and fits your budget. Open enrollment starts October 1, 2013. Coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2014.


How to get ready for the Health Insurance Marketplace

  • Get your options & info. You won’t be able to start your application for Marketplace insurance until October 1. But you don’t have to wait to find out about the Marketplace in your state or download a checklist that can help you get ready. Here’s how it works: If your state runs its Marketplace, you'll use your state’s website to apply for coverage, compare your options, and enroll. If the federal government runs your state’s Marketplace, you’ll use this website,
  • Sign up for email or text updates about the Marketplace. We'll let you know when there's important new information about the Marketplace, and we'll send timely reminders about important dates. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow on Twitter.
  • Gather basic information about your household income. Most people using the Marketplace will qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums or lower out-of-pocket costs. To find out how much savings you're eligible for, you'll need to provide income information, like the kind you get on your W-2, current pay stubs, or your tax return. You can use this checklist to get started.

  • Set your budget. There will be different types of health plans to meet a variety of needs and budgets. You'll need to figure out how much you want to spend on premiums each month. You can use this quick calculator to get an estimate of costs and savings on Marketplace health insurance.
  • Make sure you understand how coverage works, including things like premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copayments, and coinsurance. You'll want to consider these details while you're looking for health insurance.
  • Learn about different types of health coverage. Through the Marketplace, you'll be able to choose a health plan that gives you the right balance of costs and coverage. You can be better prepared if you understand the types of coverage you'll choose from.
  • Make a list of questions you have before it's time to choose your health plan.
  • Explore current options. You may be able to get coverage that starts before January 1, 2014 through existing programs. Learn more about health insurance for adults up to age 26, and programs for people and children in families with limited incomes including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Medicare covers people who are 65 and older or who have certain disabilities.
  • Ask your employer if it plans to offer health insurance in 2014. If not, you may need to get insurance through the Marketplace or from other sources in 2014. If you don’t have coverage, you may have to pay a fee.
  • Find local help. In all states, there will be people trained and certified to help you understand your health coverage options and enroll in a plan. They will be known by different names, depending on who provides the service and where they are located. All will provide similar kinds of help:

    • Navigators
    • Application assisters
    • Certified application counselors
    • Government agencies, such as State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Offices

    Insurance agents and brokers can also help you with your application and choices.

    Visit  to find help in your area. You can search by city and state or zip code to see a list of local organizations with contact information, office hours, and types of help offered, such as non-English language support, Medicaid or CHIP, and Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

    When open enrollment starts October 1, 2013, these organizations will be able to assist you in finding the kind of help that works for you. Some may be available earlier to set up a future appointment to help you in the Marketplace.

  • Get help with a Marketplace question. If you have questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace, you can call 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. Online chat is also available 24/7. Just look for the blue box on the lower right hand corner on most pages of our site. You’ll be connected to a customer service representative who can answer your questions in an online conversation.

Note for small business owners: If you run a small business, you can learn how to prepare for the SHOP Marketplace and provide coverage for your employees.


How can I get ready to enroll in the Marketplace?