Updated: 2020-07-10 by
When Obamacare first launched, the federal and state health insurance marketplaces (also called “exchanges”) were plagued by technical troubles. Many people who tried to sign up for new health insurance plans online in the early days were unable to complete their applications.
Because of these difficulties, some individuals and application assistants turned to the old-school way of getting health insurance -- paper applications.
Applying on Paper May Not Be Better or Faster
When facing a slow or broken online health insurance exchange, using a paper application may seem tempting -- at least it would provide the feeling of getting something done. However, paper forms may not speed up the process at all. On the contrary, they could slow down your application even more.
The worker who reviews your paper application must manually enter the information from your forms into the same system you would use online at your state’s exchange. It won’t work any faster for them than it does for you. Plus, using a paper application opens up more opportunity for error by putting more people between you and your goal of getting insurance.
It’s still best to apply online if you can. That said, if you feel that you’re unlikely to come back and apply for health insurance later, you may want to go ahead and complete a paper application now.
To get a paper application, call the Pennie customer service center and let them know you want to apply on paper. They'll point you to a downloadable application or send you one in the mail. For detailed Pennie contact information, see How To Sign Up for Obamacare in your state.
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Using an Insurance Agent or Broker to Sign Up for Obamacare
If you want some help choosing among your health care options under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) or if you just need a hand completing an application, help is available. If your state has its own health insurance exchange, you can call or email for free help. You can also get free, in-person guidance from trained enrollment counselors who are certified to help folks with Obamacare.
You can also seek help from a licensed insurance agent or broker. They can help you:
- figure out whether you qualify for subsidies
- help you compare plans and explain confusing features or terms
- recommend plans for you, and
- walk you through the application process.
You won’t have to pay agents or brokers, who are usually paid by the insurance companies whose policies they sell.
You may also be interested in:
Learn whether you must have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in your state.
Where to go in your state to get health plans under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and how to get help with the application process.
Essential facts about the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) in your state, including whether you must get health insurance, how much it will cost, and how you can save money.