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How to Enroll in the Affordable Care Act 101

How to Enroll in the Affordable Care Act 101 - TaxACT

How do you enroll for a health insurance plan through the healthcare marketplaces?

Now that the health insurance marketplace website is running better, let’s review the options for signing up for health insurance.


First, you actually have the option of window-shopping at

On the main page is a circle that reads: SEE PLANS BEFORE I APPLY.

CLICK the button.

Again, remember you are window-shopping now, not actually applying. This will provide a good idea of the types of plans available in your area, but will not indicate what subsidies you qualify for.

You will be taken to a brief questionnaire with five questions:

  1. Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family or for a small business that you run?
  2. Do you need health insurance or dental insurance?
  3. What state do you live in?
  4. What county do you live in?
  5.  What are the ages of the people the insurance plan will cover?

After submitting your answers, you’ll see a list of the plans available in your area with estimates of monthly premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and copayments/coinsurance.

Again, these are only estimates and do not take into account any subsidies you may be eligible for.

You can sort by the different types of plans: catastrophic, bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

Signing Up

Now that you have an idea of the plans available and which ones are affordable, you can begin the enrollment process.

On the home page, there is an orange button that says: APPLY NOW FOR HEALTH COVERAGE.

It will request your state and will either take you to your state’s exchange, or indicate that you will use’s website.

If your state is using, you’ll see two green buttons: APPLY ONLINE and APPLY BY PHONE.

Applying online will take you to a page that will ask if you are looking for coverage for individuals and families or for small business owners. You enter which state you live in and follow the directions, clicking on more buttons to either APPLY ONLINE or APPLY BY PHONE.

If you choose to apply online, you will be taken to a page that allows you to set up an account.

If you choose, you can enroll by phone. The number is 1-800-318-2596 and a representative will walk you through the process.

In addition, you can locate Application Assisters in your area who can help.

On the main page there are four links under the 3 buttons mentioned above. One of these links says: FIND LOCAL HELP.

Click on that and you’ll be taken to a page where you enter your city and state or zip code and it will supply a list of organizations in your area that can assist you.

You can also fill out a paper application that can be downloaded here.

Print, complete and mail it in. considers this to be the slowest route to enrollment.

Applying on the website is probably the fastest option. After you have window-shopped, you can enter the APPLY ONLINE area and set up an account.

Important Deadlines

Although these might change, there are important dates to remember.

December 23, 2013: If you’re planning to sign up and want insurance to start January 1, 2014, this is the latest date you will be able to sign up and have your insurance in place at the beginning of the year. If you submit a paper application, be sure to verify with the insurance company that you’ll be covered starting on January 1.

February 15, 2014: This is the latest date you’ll want to start the enrollment process if you want to be covered by March 31 due to the lag time involved with processing applications and because the effective date of coverage begins on the first of the month, i.e., March 1 if you apply by February 15. People who are not insured by March 31, 2014, may face a tax penalty.


About Mark Terry

Mark Terry is a freelance writer, editor and author specializing in healthcare and medicine. He lives in Michigan. Visit his website at