Helpful Features of - dummies

By Lisa Yagoda, Nicole Duritz, Joan Friedman

The federal government’s website is a great source of easy-to-understand information about the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace. It’s also the place to start if you need to enroll in healthcare coverage either because you’re uninsured or because you’re losing your current plan. Five great features of this website make it user-friendly:

  • Glossary: At, you can find clear, concise definitions of key terms that are used in discussions of the ACA and health insurance in general. Whether you’re curious about what “grandfathered” means when it’s used to describe a health plan or what a “qualifying life event” is that allows you to enroll for coverage, you can find your answer here.

  • Tips for a low-stress enrollment: The page walks you through preparing for the enrollment process, applying for a Marketplace account, comparing insurance plans, knowing what to expect if you apply to your state’s Medicaid program or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and finishing your plan enrollment.

  • Financial guidelines: A few groups of people are exempt from the requirement to have insurance coverage, but most Americans must carry health insurance or face financial penalties and be responsible for 100 percent of their medical bills, posing potentially great risk.

    The government has committed financial resources to help subsidize insurance premiums for people who purchase coverage through the Marketplace if their household income qualifies them for support. How can you get a sense of whether your household qualifies? Visit This page spells out the income levels (based on numbers of people in a household) that qualify for help on the Marketplace, as well as the income levels that qualify for Medicaid.

  • A directory of local help: Even though the website is user-friendly, some people prefer to get more personalized help from someone closer to home. That’s where the page comes in. Type in your zip code (or your city and state), and you’ll see a list of organizations close to you that you can contact for help with enrollment.

  • Support for small businesses: If you’re a small business owner, you can start with the page to get easy-to-understand answers to many common questions so you can prepare to compare plans and make a smart selection.