How do I apply for health insurance?

Everything you need to know about applying for health insurance.

What you need to know

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, shopping for, applying, and purchasing health insurance is now easier than ever. Everyone can now shop for health insurance online using, their state exchange, or websites like Policygenius, which can help you narrow down the plans available and make the best choice for you.

To start shopping for health insurance, make sure it's either during the Open Enrollment Period (November 1, 2018 - December 15, 2018) or that you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you recently got married, had a child, or changed jobs.

No matter where you buy health insurance from, you'll start with a short application. In this application, you'll lay out some basic information about yourself and your family. This includes information about your projected income for the next year, whether or not you use tobacco, and your address.

Based on this information, Policygenius and other sites, like or your state exchange, will show you the health insurance plans in your area and how much they cost based on the personal information you provided. Policygenius will also offer additional guidance based on your preferences, such as how much you can afford to pay per month, how much you can spend in an emergency, and whether or not your plan needs to cover specific doctors or prescriptions.

Once you've found the plan you want, it's pretty painless to apply. A quick check of your Social Security Number and projected income estimate against a government database will indicate whether or not you qualify for a premium tax credit. After that check, you'll fill out a quick application with additional personal information and take a short phone call with a qualified agent. Once you've been approved and you make your first payment, that's it – you're officially covered as of the effective date of your plan.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.