Your Health Tamar Raucher | 6 years ago

Health Insurance Marketplace: Your Enrollment Checklist

If you’re picking a health insurance plan on or off the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace, it can be hard to know where to start. This handy checklist will help you choose and sign up for a plan step by step.

Your guide to signing up for an individual health insurance plan:

Step 1: Get informed and ask questions.

Before you choose or decide to renew your health insurance plan, think about your costs and your healthcare needs. Consider these questions:
  • Which doctors do you want to see? What about the hospitals you’d prefer to go to? If you have a primary care doctor or other specialists you trust, make sure they are part of any health insurance plan you consider. This means they are “in-network,” or “preferred,” and that will help you keep your out-of-pocket costs down when you get care from them.
  • What are your average healthcare costs? Get an idea of how much healthcare you normally use. What do you usually spend on healthcare costs each year? Make sure to factor in doctor visits and costs for prescription medications.
  • What is your budget this year? How much can you afford to pay on a monthly basis for your premium? If you go with a lower premium, can you afford the added out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance?
  • Do you qualify for savings? You may be able to get help paying for a health insurance plan. Get more information at
  • Are there specific health services you know you will need? Are you planning to have a baby or schedule a knee replacement or other surgery? Do you have a medical condition that means frequent doctor visits and tests?

Step 2: Pick the best health insurance plan for you and your family.

  • Shop and compare plans at to find one that fits your budget and meets your family’s healthcare needs.
  • Make sure your plan includes the doctors and hospitals you want. And don’t be shy about contacting your doctors’ offices to double check that they are, in fact, part of a health insurance plan you are considering.

Step 3: Sign up for your health insurance plan.

  • Gather information you’ll need for the application. It’s helpful to gather the paperwork you will need before you start to fill out the application. This may include:
    • The name of your employer (if you have one)
    • Your household income
    • Social Security numbers and date of birth for everyone being insured
    • Policy and identification numbers from your current health insurance plan (if you have one)
    • Other personal details, such as how you file taxes
  • Apply and submit your application for a plan on If you currently have a health insurance plan, review your application to update your personal information, especially if your income has changed.
  • Don’t miss the December 15 sign-up deadline for coverage to begin on January 1, 2016. And sign up on to get emails or text reminders of next year’s important dates.
  Terms to know: Premium - The amount you pay each month to keep your health insurance plan active. Deductible - The amount you have to spend on your medical care each year before your health insurance company starts paying for your health care. Out-of-pocket costs - Your total expenses for medical care that are not paid by your health insurance plan. Co-pay and co-insurance - These are two different ways for you to pay your share of the costs for your medical care. Network - A group of doctors and hospitals that participate in a health insurance plan. Typically, you pay lower out-of-pocket costs if you go to doctors and hospitals that belong to your health insurance plan’s network.