Just signed up for health insurance: Some advice for those still trying

I finally completed my application for health insurance through the federal exchange today, with the assistance of an independent insurance broker. I’d visited with a navigator earlier in the month who did a good job of explaining how the tax credits and subsidies worked, but I decided to do the actual work of filling out the Healthcare.gov application myself. For weeks I’d been getting stuck at the final verification stage that allows you to proceed to choosing a plan. So I called up a professional insurance broker here in Austin, who was very helpful.

First, if you created your account on Healthcare.gov a few weeks ago and you’re still having problems, it’s a good idea to start over with a completely new account using a different email address. This eliminated the problem I was having before; the new account allowed me to sail right through the application process.

Talking to a private insurance broker is also useful if you have specific questions about different plans or companies. You don’t pay their fee — the insurance companies do. For maximum choice in providers, I went with a PPO plan (as opposed to an HMO, which can have lower premiums, but puts serious limitations on which doctors you can see). Look on Yelp to find highly-recommended brokers in your area.

My husband and I chose a Silver plan with much better coverage than our current individual plans, and with the ACA credits, we’ll be paying approximately $150/month less in premiums.

Assuming all goes as expected, I’m pretty excited about having reasonably-priced, non-crappy health insurance. It was such a relief not to have to fill out endless forms about my medical history and pre-existing conditions. As far as I can tell, there is no “crisis” — the real crisis would be if opponents of health insurance reform managed to undo all the hard work that got us this far.


Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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