When I worked a traditional office job, choosing a health insurance plan was easy. I had to make a few choices, but for the most part my plan was chosen for me. All I had to do was sign some paperwork.
But since becoming self-employed, that process has become a lot more complicated. I've had to learn how to navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace (marketplace), weigh my options and choose a plan that best fits my specific situation. I've also had to learn how to determine which plans are HSA-eligible.
As droves of people become self-employed and companies limit their healthcare options, more consumers across the country are having to make those same choices. If you're still deciding about your 2020 health care options, take a look at what I've learned about how to buy an HSA-eligible plan through the marketplace, and how you can do the same.
What is the marketplace?
The health insurance marketplace is a website where people can shop for insurance plans. These sites were constructed after the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, intended as a way for consumers to compare plans objectively. In most states the marketplace is Healthcare.gov, but some states have their own marketplaces.
When you apply for health insurance through the marketplace, you first have to enter your personal information. The site asks for your name, social security number, the number of people in your household, your income and whether or not you have access to health insurance through an employer.
In short, if you earn below 400% of the federal poverty guidelines, you'll qualify for a federal subsidy to ease the cost of insurance.
Once the site has your information, including basic health details, they'll outline what plans you're eligible for. The amount and quality of plans you see will depend on where you live and how many insurance companies provide coverage through the marketplace. Some states only have one insurer that provides marketplace-eligible plans.
You can rank and filter the plans by cost, coverage type and more. If you're looking for an HSA-eligible plan, you can scroll to the high-deductible plans to see which ones fit the bill.
A helping hand...
Thankfully, there's a simpler way to find an HSA-eligible plan. When you're browsing through the marketplace, look for the plans that say "HSA" or "HSA-eligible" next to them. HSA eligibility only matters with medical plans, so you can choose any dental or vision plan and still use your HSA funds with those.
This year, I almost messed up while looking for an HSA-eligible option. I had picked a high-deductible plan and almost enrolled before I decided to double-check its HSA status, only to find out it didn't meet the right requirements. That's when I noticed another high-deductible plan with "HSA" in its name. If I hadn't taken a second look, I'd be out of luck until the next enrollment period.
If you're having trouble picking a marketplace plan that comes with an HSA, you can call the customer service line at 1-800-318-2596. You can also find local, vetted experts to help you choose the right plan.
If you're shopping for coverage toward the end of open enrollment, don't be surprised if lines are long and call centers are busy. That's why it's best to start the process early, while you have plenty of time to make the right choice.
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Compound It! is your weekly update of achievable, effective, no-nonsense HSA saving, buying and investment advice, delivered by people who make it work in their own lives. For the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to check out the HSA Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.