What are my health insurance options?

If you're looking for individual health insurance or family health insurance, you probably have some ideas of what you need, but not really what's available.

You can try searching for cheap health insurance, affordable health insurance, reliable health coverage, even the best health insurance for the money. However, the health plans you find through these general searches might not always apply to you.

Before you sort through those searches, this quick guide to individual health insurance plans can help you understand what you might find.

Need coverage now - Short term health insurance1

woman on phone

If you lost coverage or are coming off some other insurance, short term medical insurance might work as the right health plan for you while you find more permanent health coverage. Often called term medical insurance or temporary medical insurance, short term medical plans are designed to give health coverage during a limited series of months.

Short term health insurance in a nutshell

  • Not intended to be primary medical insurance, and doesn't have the same benefits as Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance. Plans vary widely in what they cover.
  • Generally less expensive than ACA coverage, but you may be subject to a tax penalty.
  • Application includes a series of medical questions to determine if you qualify for coverage.
  • Preexisting conditions are typically not covered.
  • You can apply at any time, all year round, and in many cases get covered as soon as the next day.

See what short term plans are available in your state.

65 or over - Explore your Medicare options

If you're 65 or older, or are under 65 with a qualifying disability or condition, Medicare is very likely your best health insurance option.

Medicare in a nutshell

  • Get coverage in every major medical area. Medicare Part A for hospital insurance, Part B for doctor visits or lab work, and Part D for prescription drug coverage.
  • Pick up a Medicare Supplement plan (also called Medigap) to cover areas Medicare itself doesn't.
  • Or, combine Part A, Part B and even Part D drug coverage in a single Medicare Advantage plan (referred to as Medicare Part C).
  • Generally, enrollment for Medicare is three months before and after the month you turn 65.

Coverage for the long term - Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans

Commonly called Obamacare, ACA coverage may not always seem like affordable health insurance at first. However, if you have preexisting conditions or need medical coverage for an extended period of time, an ACA plan may be your best option. It can even be less expensive than you think if you qualify for a tax credits or subsidies.

ACA insurance in a nutshell

  • Guaranteed issue. You can't be turned down for coverage or charged more based on preexisting health conditions.
  • Tax credits and subsidies could help with your costs depending on how much you earn.
  • Plans cover a consistent set of ten essential health benefits, including preventive care, maternity care, and prescription coverage.
  • Unless you qualify for a special enrollment, you must enroll during the annual open enrollment, usually in November and December.

You can explore ACA options from multiple carriers in your area through our affiliated agency HealthMarkets. Or you can call 1-800-980-5213 or look for ACA plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace at Healthcare.gov.

Help with out-of-pocket costs - Additional insurance options

Hospital and doctor fixed indemnity plans2

  • Hospital and doctor fixed indemnity insurance pays a predetermined amount of cash after you receive a specific medical service covered by the plan.
  • Plans vary in what's covered, and most don't cover anything related to preexisting conditions.
  • Generally, you can apply any time but must answer a series of medical questions to qualify.
  • Pays benefits regardless of other coverage. The cash you get can be used to help offset expenses not covered by your main insurance.

See what hospital and doctor plans are available in your state.

Critical illness insurance2 or accident insurance2

  • Can help with the financial strain that often comes with unexpected injury or illness.
  • Critical illness insurance, also called critical care insurance or critical illness coverage, pays a lump sum cash benefit following diagnosis of a qualifying illness like cancer or a stroke or heart attack. Learn More
  • Accident insurance, also called personal accident insurance or supplement accident insurance, helps pay medical costs from unexpected injuries. Learn More


  1. Short term health insurance does not meet minimum essential coverage requirements, meaning signing up for this coverage may result in a tax penalty. Plans are subject to health underwriting, and do not cover preexisting conditions.
  2. THIS PRODUCT PROVIDES LIMITED BENEFITS. This is a supplement to health insurance and is not a substitute for the minimum essential coverage required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Lack of major medical coverage (or other minimum essential coverage) may result in an additional payment with your taxes.

Definitions of terms may vary by insurance plan or company.

Product design and availability varies by state.

All products require separate applications. Separate policies are issued.

No individual applying for health coverage through the individual Marketplace will be discouraged from applying for benefits, turned down for coverage, or charged more premium because of health status, medical condition, mental illness claims experience, medical history, genetic information or health disability. In addition, no individual will be denied coverage based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, personal appearance, political affiliation or source of income.

References to UnitedHealthcare pertain to each individual company or other UnitedHealthcare affiliated companies.

Each company is a separate entity and is not responsible for another's financial or contractual obligations.

Insurance coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or its affiliates. Administrative services are provided by United HealthCare Services, Inc. or their affiliates.

Products and services offered are underwritten by Golden Rule Insurance Company, Health Plan of Nevada, Inc., Oxford Health Insurance, Inc., UnitedHealthcare Life Insurance Company, UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic, Inc., UnitedHealthcare of New York, Inc.

This policy is subject to various exclusions and limitations. For costs and complete details of the coverage, call (or write) your insurance agent or the company (whichever is applicable).