How to choose Marketplace insurance

Catastrophic health insurance plans

People under 30 and people with “hardship exemptions” may buy a "catastrophic" health plan. This type of plan has lower monthly premiums and mainly protects you from very high medical costs.

Protection from worst-case scenarios

A catastrophic plan generally requires you to pay all of your medical costs up to a certain amount, usually several thousand dollars. This limit is known as a deductible. After you reach your deductible, costs for essential health benefits are generally paid by the catastrophic plan.

Catastrophic plans usually have lower monthly premiums than a comprehensive plan. But they cover your costs only after you’ve used a lot of care. These plans basically protect you from worst-case scenarios like serious accidents or illnesses.

Catastrophic plans cover prevention and some primary care

In the Marketplace, catastrophic plans cover 3 primary care visits per year at no cost, even before you’ve met your deductible. They also cover free preventive services.

If you buy a catastrophic plan in the Marketplace, you can’t get premium tax credits or lower out-of-pocket costs based on your income. Regardless of your income, you pay the standard price for the catastrophic plan.

Catastrophic plans with a hardship exemption

  • People 30 and under with a “hardship exemption” may buy a catastrophic plan. Hardship exemptions from paying the fee are granted to people based on income or other factors that prevent them from getting coverage. Learn more about hardship exemptions.
  • If you had an individual insurance plan that was cancelled and you believe other Marketplace plans aren't affordable, you may qualify for a hardship exemption. If you do, you can buy a catastrophic plan.

Learn if you qualify for a catastrophic plan in the Marketplace

After you fill out a Marketplace application you'll get an eligibility notice. It will tell you what programs and savings you’re eligible for, including catastrophic plans. If you’re eligible to enroll in a catastrophic plan, you’ll see these plans listed when you compare your coverage options.

You can then choose to enroll in a catastrophic plan or any other plan available to you.