School closures. Zoom meetings. Masks. Two years in, the pandemic still casts a shadow over many aspects of daily life. With these reminders of just how vulnerable our health can be, it makes sense that many of us are entering 2022 with maintaining our physical and mental well-being at the top of our priority list.

From exercising more to reducing stress to seeing your primary care physician, many Americans make resolutions to improve their health each year. If you’re one of the Americans committed to taking control of your health in 2022, you might choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator, select healthier food options, get a cancer screening or download a meditation app. There are many paths to a healthier body and mind.

One that may not rise to the very top of your list of resolutions but can have a great impact on your health is getting your health coverage in order. How many of us have thought about supplementing healthy habits with a new health insurance plan? Studies have shown that a lack of health insurance has a negative impact on health. For the millions of Americans who need affordable and quality health coverage, the Affordable Care Act marketplace offers just that.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a number of employment trends, including the rise of the gig economy and the so-called Great Resignation. The last two years have seen Americans reevaluate their work-life balance, with many deciding to pursue a different line of work, a more flexible schedule or an earlier retirement than they had originally planned. Shifts in the workforce converged with the public health crisis to underscore Americans’ need for quality health care coverage options. In particular, Americans thinking outside the box with their jobs need health coverage suited to their unique needs.

For Americans who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and who are seeking an alternative to employer-sponsored insurance, ACA insurance marketplace plans might be a good option. All ACA individual health insurance plans cover the following 10 essential benefit categories: prescription drugs; pregnancy, maternity and newborn care; pediatric services; mental health and addiction services; preventative, wellness and chronic disease management services; lab tests; emergency services; hospitalization; ambulatory services; and rehabilitative services and devices.

With open enrollment season ending on Jan. 15, now is the time to determine whether an ACA plan is the right choice. Below, a rundown of a few types of Americans who might benefit from such health coverage:

1. A part-time employee at a company that doesn’t offer insurance for part-time employees.

2. The sole owner and operator of your business. 

It takes an independent spirit to own and operate a business by yourself, but even the sole owner and proprietor of a business can benefit from outside support. Finding coverage for your company can be a difficult task. With plans designed to address health care gaps for Americans in unique employment situations, the ACA marketplace might have options that work for you.

3. A freelancer, gig worker or consultant.

You make your own hours and you take advantage of the growing acceptance of remote work. As a freelancer, gig worker or consultant, you are likely to value flexibility. ACA coverage might offer just the right kind of flexibility to match yours. If you’re self-employed, you may even be eligible for a premium on tax breaks. Of the 12.1 million uninsured people eligible to purchase ACA marketplace plans, nearly 11 million are eligible for subsidies under the ACA and the American Rescue Plan COVID relief legislation to help lower the cost of coverage. Better yet, 4 million uninsured people are eligible for fully subsidized plans with $0 premiums.

If you’re one of the 3 million-plus Americans who retired early during the pandemic, congratulations! Though you might have a leg up on the golf course compared to your working peers, you may not yet qualify for Medicare. You do, however, qualify for health coverage through the ACA marketplace. You will not be denied insurance because of a preexisting condition. Upon enrollment, you can apply for a premium tax credit that can be used to lower the cost of your monthly premium.

From updating your resume, to searching job post websites to scheduling interviews, being between jobs is difficult enough without having to worry about health coverage. If you’ve recently lost or resigned from your job and lost health coverage as a result, you should know that ACA coverage typically costs less and provides coverage for longer than COBRA.

Whatever the situation, a happy and healthy new year starts with knowledge of health coverage options. Visit Healthcare.gov to review plan options or visit specific carrier’s individual and family plan websites to learn more about how ACA coverage works.

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