Before You Decide

Not everyone can get health insurance through their employer.

If you’re looking for individual or family healthcare coverage for yourself or your family, you can purchase it on your own from a Marketplace/Exchange or directly from an insurance company (depending on where you live).

Before you get started, be sure to review the Questions to Consider, which will help guide you in your decision-making.

Individual and family health insurance is a type of health plan purchased by an individual or family for themselves—rather than being covered under an employer health plan.

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Consider the following questions when looking to purchase individual or family health insurance:

How much will it cost?

Consider the cost of monthly premiums, copayments, coinsurance, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximum amounts.

Are the doctors or hospitals in the network you currently use or want to use? Search our directory.

How large is the prescription drug network, and are your medications covered? Use our drug search tool.

Does the plan include no-cost wellness program benefits that help you better manage your physical, emotional, financial and social well-being?

Will you need referrals to see a specialist?

What benefits are included?

What are the copays for generic drugs for a 30-day and 90-day supply?

Does the plan allow you to have a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

Does the plan offer out-of-area coverage in case of illness or injury while traveling?

Does the plan include dental or vision coverage for members over age 19?

The federal Health Insurance Marketplace®, also called the "Marketplace" or "Exchange," is the website ( where individuals and families can look for quality health plans available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

All plans offered through the Marketplace are ACA-compliant, which means they will cover essential health benefits and won't turn you down, charge you more or limit coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

How do I apply for healthcare coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace?

Follow these simple steps:

  • Visit

  • Select "Get Coverage" in the menu

  • Select your state from the drop-down menu and click the "Apply" button
    • Some states operate their own Marketplace/Exchange. So you might see a message directing you to your state’s website. For example, Maryland residents who apply through the Marketplace will see the following message: If you live in Maryland, you'll use the Maryland Health Connection website to enroll in health coverage.

When applying for individual and family healthcare coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you'll need to provide income and household information to find out if you qualify for the following:

  • Premium tax credits and other savings that make insurance more affordable

  • Coverage through the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in your state

For an estimate of what you may receive in financial assistance, check out our Subsidy Calculator. Just enter your ZIP code and date of birth and select "I’m interested in a subsidy from the government" to see if you’re eligible.

Who's eligible to apply?

To be eligible, you must live in the United States, be a United States citizen or national (or be lawfully present) and cannot be incarcerated.

When can I apply?

You can enroll in an ACA-compliant health plan during the Marketplace's Open Enrollment Period (November 1–January 15) or a Special Enrollment Period for certain qualifying life events.

If I’m a resident of Maryland, Washington D.C. or Northern Virginia…


Do I have to purchase healthcare coverage through the Marketplace/Exchange?




Do I have to purchase coverage through the Marketplace to see if I qualify for financial assistance?




Where can I apply?

Maryland Health Connection

D.C. Health Link

Please note: District of Columbia residents cannot buy directly from an insurance company. The law requires all D.C. residents to purchase a health plan through D.C. Health Link.

Many insurance companies that offer health plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the Marketplace also offer identical ones outside of it. In addition, they offer other health plans that are not ACA-compliant—so be sure to specify which type of plan you would like to learn more about.

To purchase healthcare coverage from an insurance carrier, you must contact them directly.

Buying Directly From CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

CareFirst is the largest, not-for-profit healthcare insurer in the Mid-Atlantic region.

To purchase individual or family health insurance from us, call Consumer Direct at 800-544-8703, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon. Or shop online for the CareFirst health coverage you need.

We also offer different payment options for your convenience.

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