Health Insurance: Shop Wisely

HClogoThe other day a friend asked me about health insurance.  She said “I’ve been getting all this different advice: ‘Go see Agent X – he’ll fix you up;’ or ‘Agent Y found a really good plan for me.’  I’ve seen a couple different agents and I’m confused.”

Until she talked with me, no one had suggested checking on .

I don’t know what her income is, but I think she may be eligible for premium tax credits to help pay monthly premiums for health insurance.  But before our conversation, she didn’t realize that help was available.  The key point I explained to her was this:  Premium Tax Credits are only available if you buy your health insurance in the official “Marketplace” through

Some insurance agents will help customers enroll in plans offered in the Marketplace.  They only receive a tiny commission for helping clients, but they do it anyway, because they want to serve their customers well.   If your income is below the income guidelines for premium tax credits (over $90,000 for a family of four), make sure your insurance agent shows you the plans available in the Marketplace and explains how the premium tax credits work.

To find a health care navigator or certified application counselor near you, go to

Health Insurance is important.  Even if a cheaper plan is available somewhere else, you may come out ahead by purchasing a plan in the Marketplace, where Premium Tax Credits can help cover the cost of a plan that meets high quality standards.


Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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