Q&A: Federal Healthcare Exchange Roll-out and State Exchanges

I’ve heard that HealthCare.gov is having big problems. Can I still buy health insurance from there?

If you live in a state that built its own health insurance marketplace (also called “the Exchange”), you don’t have to worry about HealthCare.gov. States that organized their own marketplaces have generally been very successful at enrolling consumers.

In fact, we've heard enrollment is surging in some states. In California, for example, enrollment in the first 2 weeks of November was more than double all of October. In Minnesota, sign-ups tripled in the last 2 weeks of October. And in Washington, Kentucky, and Connecticut, the first 2 weeks of November were higher than all of October.

For folks in states that did not do their own marketplace and are using HealthCare.gov, you can still compare insurance prices and figure out which plan would work best for your family. Click on the “See plans now” section, and answer a few questions. It’s fast, and you don’t have to register, so you avoid most of the hang-ups.

Remember that until you enter in your tax information, none of the federal subsidies will be included, so the premium you’ll see later will likely be lower if you’re between 100-400% of the poverty level.

There are two subsidy calculators that will give you a ballpark idea of your possibilities. They are: kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/ and GetCoveredAmerica.org/calculator/. Also remember, there are four ways to buy insurance – over the phone, in person, online, and via paper application.

Why can’t I buy insurance from a neighboring state?

Any insurance plan that is sold within the borders of a state must comply with that state’s laws.

Selling across state lines would mean the laws that govern your insurance plan may not be voted on by legislators in your state. In short, if you had a complaint, you wouldn’t have any elected official or insurance regulator to help you because they’d have no control over another state’s law.

In order to sell across state lines, the federal government would have to force states to accept an insurance plan from another state, even if it didn’t comply with that state’s laws. This is what happened with the credit card industry, and why the federal government had to pass the credit card reform act in 2009.

These articles are meant solely to answer questions we receive and provide general information about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Center for Rural Affairs does not offer or provide legal advice. CFRA is not an insurance agency, broker, or consultant; does not recommend any health insurance product or policy or provide any advice on the purchasing of health insurance; and does not accept any compensation or consideration from an insurance company, insurance broker, or insurance consultant.