Can I Buy Health Insurance That Is Not Obamacare?

Healthcare Writer

Updated on January 21st, 2021

Reviewed by Diane Omdahl

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Yes, it’s possible to buy health insurance that is not Obamacare, although there are significant drawbacks to doing so.

First, it’s important to understand that Obamacare is just another name for the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare sets the rules for health plans bought by individuals under the age of 65. When you buy health insurance on your own – and not through an employer – then you’re probably getting Obamacare. If your plan has bronze, silver, gold, or platinum in its name, then it’s Obamacare.

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What Are Non-Obamacare Options?

That said, there are many options for health insurance that are not Obamacare. These Obamacare alternatives generally have very large doctor networks.

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  • Christian health ministries, or faith-based healthcare, are religious charities that share the cost of healthcare among their members. Premiums can be as low as $100 per month. These plans have very specific rules about what they do and don’t cover. Around 1 million people are enrolled in faith-based plans.
  • Short-term health insurance lasts for up to 364 days at a time, with premiums as low as $50 per month. It won’t cover preexisting conditions or long-term health issues and will require you to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket before it shares the cost of your care. Short-term plans are designed to affordably protect you in an emergency. Short-term plans are popular with travelers, students, and those waiting for comprehensive coverage to begin. The federal government estimated 600,000 more plans would be sold in 2019 when it changed rules on short-term plans.1 There are no longer Federal tax penalties if you rely on short-term insurance, but it’s not available in all states.
  • Fixed-indemnity, or critical illness plans, give you predetermined amounts of money if you’re diagnosed with a certain disease (like cancer) or get into a specific accident (like losing a limb). There is no longer a Federal tax penalty if you use fixed indemnity to replace Obamacare coverage.
  • Paying for care on your own is always an option, although it’s not a very affordable one.

You can also buy separate coverage for specific needs, like dental or vision insurance, from a number of insurers. Obamacare plans aren’t required to include dental and vision care.

If you have minimal income, you can apply for Medicaid, which is low-cost government insurance. There are different requirements to receive Medicaid in each state, and it must be renewed at least once per year.

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Obamacare means your major medical health insurance must have certain coverage rules and consumer protections. On one hand, Obamacare plans won’t reject you for a preexisting condition. On the other hand, Obamacare insurance will charge you for 10 essential health benefits, even those that you don’t want.

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  1. Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury; Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services. “Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance.” Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 150 (Aug. 1, 2018): 38212 (accessed April 2020).