Affordable Care Act

Types of Health Insurance: What to Buy under Obamacare

Updated on November 15, 2019


Updated October 2018.
There are many types of health insurance plans you can buy during the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) Open Enrollment Period (OEP). Get information about the types of health insurance now available and select the health plan that’s best suited to your needs.

Off-Exchange major medical health insurance

Off-Exchange major medical health insurance plans are generally not eligible for subsidies. Under Obamacare, people who do not qualify for or want a subsidy, but who want to avoid the tax penalty, can buy major medical health plans that meet ACA coverage standards on or off of government-run state exchanges. For 2018, eHealth reports that unsubsidized eHealth shoppers were quoted the following prices on average:

  • Premiums: $440 per month for individual coverage or $1,168 for family coverage
  • Deductibles: $4,578 per year for individual coverage or $8,803 for family coverage

On-Exchange Qualified Health Plans

People who qualify for and want to use a subsidy to pay for a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) can research QHP plan data on some private exchanges and enroll in a plan if the private exchange meets the federal requirements for qualified health plans. In some states, consumers can do this online, while in others a person may have to help you enroll offline. You can also purchase a qualified health plan through your state’s government-run health insurance exchange or marketplace

Catastrophic level health insurance plans

Catastrophic plans are ACA-compliant health insurance plans primarily intended for people under age 30, and they cannot be purchased with a subsidy. Those who buy a catastrophic plan will not have to pay tax penalties for being uninsured, if they meet certain hardship exemptions, but their plans only provide the bare minimum benefits allowed under the law.

Cost of Catastrophic plans purchased through eHealth for the 2017 open enrollment period:

  • Average premium: $173 per month
  • Average deductible: $7,148 per year

Supplemental plans

Many consumers want benefits beyond what’s provided in a major medical health insurance plan. Benefits like life, dental, vision, critical illness, and accident insurance are a popular part of benefits packages offered by employers and are available for individuals on private exchanges. Some government exchanges may offer some of these products as well.

Gap (short-term) health insurance

The Affordable Care Act allows people to be uninsured for no more than two consecutive months without being subject to a tax penalty. The ACA also creates new enrollment periods when a person can enroll in major medical insurance. Outside of an enrollment period, people may have to wait to get coverage. Gap insurance products like short-term medical insurance may be helpful if you need limited coverage outside of the enrollment window.

Cost of short-term health insurance plans purchased through eHealth in 2018:

  • Average premiums in markets for both 12 and 6-month options: $88 for 6-month or $107 for lowest-cost 12-month plan

Types of Health Insurance Plans available under Obamacare

The chart above only provides general guidance, but many exceptions apply, so your specific circumstances may vary.  In addition, this information is subject to change.

Related Articles

We’ll let you know when we publish anything new.