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Whether you’re self-employed, don’t have insurance at work or are retired but not yet eligible for Medicare, there are affordable health insurance options for you right now.

Having health insurance means that, if a medical emergency comes up, or if you need to visit your doctor for a routine checkup, you’ll be covered.

“If you don’t have medical insurance, you can be faced with large bills for medical care,” explains Craig Shively, sales manager at Geisinger Health Plan.

Here’s how you can find an affordable health insurance plan on a fixed budget. 

Buying health insurance: How and when?

You may lack access to insurance for many reasons, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be covered. 

“A lot of people who don’t have medical coverage avoid getting care when they need it,” says Shively. “But options for affordable coverage are available, so no one has to compromise on their health.”

You may need to buy individual health insurance if you: 

  • Are self-employed 
  • Work for a company that doesn’t offer health insurance
  • Are retired but are not yet eligible for Medicare (retired before you turn 65, for example)

If you’ve found that you need to buy your own health insurance, an annual period called open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 through Jan. 15. During this time, you can shop for health insurance. 

However, in 2021, due to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennie™ (the Pennsylvania-based health insurance marketplace), hhas opened a new Special Enrollment Period until Aug. 15, 2021 in which all Pennsylvanians are eligible to enroll. (More on that below.)

Some special circumstances and life changes may also enable you to enroll or buy health insurance on your own outside of an annual Open Enrollment Period. “Some of these circumstances include getting married and losing previous health insurance,” says Shively. “In this case, you would qualify for a special enrollment period.”

If you’re worried about the cost of individual health insurance, programs exist to help you keep your costs low.

What is the Affordable Care Act? 

When you enroll in individual health insurance for yourself or your family, you can find out if you qualify for subsidies or assistance. This can help you find affordable health insurance for you and your family through the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care (ACT) offers subsidies that help people gain access to high quality and affordable health insurance. This program is based on household income and the number of people who live in the home.

“If your income is more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) or under 400 percent of the FPL, you may be eligible for financial help for premiums,” says Shively. “In some cases, this can even help cover out-of-pocket costs.”

What is the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)?

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is also known as the COVID-19 relief package abd includes provisions specific to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). ARPA is the largest coverage expansion since the ACA passage in 2010 with increases in the eligibility for, and the amount of, premium tax credits for Pennsylvanians at all income levels during the 2021 and 2022 plan years.

As a direct result, Pennsylvanians seeking individual market coverage and those already enrolled in coverage through Pennie™ are seeing significant financial aid and cost savings. Under this law, no one will pay more than 8.5 percent of their income in premiums for the second lowest cost silver plan (SLCSP or benchmark plan) in their county. In some cases, lower-income enrollees could have their premiums eliminated completely.

Geisinger Health Plan can help you find affordable health insurance 

Regardless of your healthcare and financial needs, options are available to keep you and your family covered.

“Take Geisinger Health Plan for example,” says Shively. “We offer 15 different plans so you can find one that fits your needs and your budget.” 

He adds that plans range from individual to family coverage and income-based plans including the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and GHP Family (Geisinger Health Plan’s Medicaid plan).

This year, Geisinger Health Plan is moving away from the federally facilitated exchange and moving to state-based exchange called “Pennie.” 

What does this mean for you? Pennie™ is the marketplace that provides people living in Pennsylvania with access to health insurance and financial assistance if needed. Geisinger Health Plan has partnered with Pennie to help make sure you get the coverage you need at a rate you can afford. If you want to learn more about Pennie, visit or call them at 844-844-8040.

“If you’re looking for an individual health insurance plan, Geisinger Health Plan can help,” adds Shively. “And if you aren’t sure which plan is right for you, our dedicated, trained advisors will partner with you from start to finish.”

2021: COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period

Due to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennie has opened a Special Enrollment Period from Feb. 15, 2021, to Aug. 15, 2021.

During this period, if you’re a new or current enrollee, you’re eligible to purchase coverage or switch plans — even if you already enrolled during the most recent Open Enrollment Period.

Need help enrolling or just want to talk through your options? Our team can help. Call us at 800-918-5154 or fill out the form here to have a member of our team reach out to you.

Next steps:

Learn more about the COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period

Find insurance that works for you with Geisinger Marketplace

Learn more about Geisinger Health Plan

Call a Geisinger Health Plan representative today: 800-918-5154

Find a health insurance plan

Fill out the form below and a member of our team will be in touch soon!