ACA Uncertainty: Consider Health Insurance Alternatives

Individual and Family

ACA Uncertainty: Consider Health Insurance Alternatives

Updated on November 07, 2019


Not every insurance product is right for every individual. For many, health insurance alternatives offer a better value for their money and a better fit for their lifestyle. With the individual mandate going away, many individuals are exploring Affordable Care Act (ACA) alternatives, since the fine for not having Obamacare-compliant health insurance will no longer be applicable in 2019.

Short Term Health Insurance

eHealth offers short term health insurance, as an ACA alternative when all you need is limited coverage for a short period of time. Watch the video below to understand more about short term health insurance.

Understand that short term health insurance will not give you the same amount of coverage as an ACA plan that has the ten essential benefits. In addition, short term plans can exclude pre-existing conditions.  Although the short term health insurance plans usually don’t give you as much coverage as more traditional plans might, that doesn’t mean that this health insurance alternative isn’t a good option for certain individuals and certain circumstances.

Medical insurance packages

Medical insurance packages are viable health insurance alternatives for people who either cannot afford Obamacare or who need to buy insurance outside of the open enrollment period. These plans are not considered qualified health insurance under the ACA. You cannot get ACA insurance subsidies with one of these plans.
However, these health insurance alternatives can offer some protection if you are unable to buy an ACA plan. They typically offer lower levels of insurance at lower costs than ACA plans. Many of these health insurance products are short-term plans that can bridge the gap if you are waiting for the open enrollment period, or are between jobs with employer-sponsored health insurance.

Catastrophic coverage

Before the ACA’s minimum required coverage requirements, many sought catastrophic policies as affordable health insurance alternatives. A catastrophic plan is significantly less expensive than full health coverage. The trade off is that this plan will only cover you in covered catastrophic events. Basic preventative medicine is covered out of pocket. The plan only kicks in if you have major medical expenses, such as those associated with major surgery.
These ACA alternatives might be best for people who are in good health, and wish only to cover themselves in the case of a series emergency. Using this type of limited coverage, individuals will essentially self-insure for small expenses such as prescriptions and check-ups. If the individual suffers a serious accident or illness, catastrophic coverage can prevent them from paying entirely out-of-pocket for catastrophic medical costs.

Healthcare sharing organizations

Healthcare sharing ministries are alternatives to ACA plans for people who have certain beliefs, and opt out of participating in traditional health care. They continue to be a good option for people in good health who fit the guidelines associated with the organization. These organizations, which are typically faith-based, offer health insurance alternatives in the form of a fund that all members pay into.
If you need medical care, these health insurance alternatives will pay for certain procedures. To become a member, you will typically have to adhere to requirements such as pursuing a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle and being a member of a religious organization. These ACA alternatives are frequently less expensive than traditional health insurance, but might also pay for fewer medical costs.
In addition, because they technically are not insurance, they are not regulated by state departments of insurance, may not be required to cover medical costs, and are not eligible for any government subsidies.

Ancillary policies

Do you feel that you need specific types of coverage such as dental or vision more than you need wide ranging insurance coverage? If you are young and in good health, purchasing ancillary policies à la carte may present more affordable ACA alternatives for your situation. These health insurance alternatives are designed to cover specific services.
You can choose just one policy, such as just dental or choose several as ACA alternatives that cover the services you will need. Often, the cost will be far lower than the cost of an ACA policy. With these health insurance alternatives, however, it is important to understand that you will have to pay out of pocket for procedures that are not part of your plan.

How can you buy health insurance alternatives?

Qualified health plans can only be purchased during the annual open enrollment period. Recently, this has been from November 1st through December 15th in most states. However, many health insurance alternatives are not restricted to enrollment during the open enrollment period. Instead, you are able to enroll in these programs at any time of year.
It is important to note that if you change your mind and no longer want ACA alternatives, however, you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment to sign up for regular health insurance again.
Thoroughly exploring your health insurance alternatives can empower you to make the best insurance choices for you and your family. You may find that ACA alternatives offer the flexibility and cost savings you want, while still providing the coverage that you need. Visit to see what kind of flexible coverage you can get at prices that don’t break the bank.
Keep in mind that many of these products do not cover you against the individual mandate. Although the current administration repealed this law, you will still need to report proof of ACA-compliant health insurance on your taxes in 2019.

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