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What are Louisiana Healthcare Navigators?

Louisiana Healthcare Navigators provide Louisiana residents with the most accurate and up-to-date information on: eligibility and enrollment requirements for  Federal Health Insurance Marketplace coverage, Affordable Care Act specifications, and other health programs such as Medicaid and LaCHIP. Navigators offer consumers free, confidential assistance with enrolling in health insurance coverage through the Marketplace and guidance in understanding how to properly utilize health insurance benefits to stay healthy and lower costs for care.

What is the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace?

The Marketplace is a way to find quality health coverage. It is a federally-regulated state-based exchange where consumers can shop and buy private health insurance and potentially qualify for financial assistance in paying for their coverage. The Marketplace can help if you don’t have coverage now or if you have it but want to look at other options.

With one Marketplace application, you can learn if you can get lower costs based on your income, compare your coverage options side-by-side, and enroll in coverage.

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Who is eligible to use the Marketplace?

To enroll in health coverage through the Marketplace, you:

  • Must live in the United States.
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or qualified alien during entire coverage period.
  • Cannot be incarcerated.

How will the Marketplace make it easier for me to compare different plans?

There are four basic levels of coverage: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. This ranking system makes it easy to compare different health plans. As the metal category increases in value, so does the percent of medical expenses that a health plan will cover. These expenses are usually incurred at the time of health care services – when you visit the doctor or the emergency room. For example, the health plans that cover more of your medical expenses usually have higher monthly premiums, but you will pay less when you receive medical care.

By choosing to pay a higher monthly premium, you pay less when you need medical care. If you choose to pay a lower monthly premium, you pay more when you need medical care. You can choose the level of coverage that best meets your health needs and budget.
For more information about the basic levels of coverage, visit here.

When can I apply for insurance through the Marketplace?

Open enrollment in 2019 for Marketplace insurance has not yet been announced. You may apply and become eligible for coverage outside of the Open Enrollment period if you meet certain special eligibility requirements.

You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) if you or anyone in your household in the past 60 days experiences:

Changes in household size

  • Got married. Pick a plan by the last day of the month and your coverage can start the first day of the next month.
  • Had a baby, adopted a child, or placed a child for foster care. Your coverage can start the day of the event — even if you enroll in the plan up to 60 days afterward.
  • Got divorced or legally separated and lost health insurance. Note: Divorce or legal separation without losing coverage doesn’t qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period.
  • Died. You’ll be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period if someone on your Marketplace plan dies and as a result you’re no longer eligible for your current health plan.

Changes in residence

Household moves that qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period:

  • Moving to a new home in a new ZIP code or county
  • Moving to the U.S. from a foreign country or United States territory
  • If you’re a student, moving to or from the place you attend school
  • If you’re a seasonal worker, moving to or from the place you both live and work
  • Moving to or from a shelter or other transitional housing

Note: Moving only for medical treatment or staying somewhere for vacation doesn’t qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period.

Important: You must prove you had qualifying health coverage for one or more days during the 60 days before your move. You don’t need to provide proof if you’re moving from a foreign country or United States territory.

Loss of health coverage

You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you or anyone in your household lost qualifying health coverage in the past 60 days OR expects to lose coverage in the next 60 days. Coverage losses that may qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period include:

  • Losing job-based coverage
  • Losing individual health coverage for a plan or policy bought yourself
  • Losing eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP
  • Losing eligibility for Medicare
  • Losing coverage through a family member

More qualifying changes

Other life circumstances that may qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period, include:

  • Changes that make you no longer eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Gaining membership in a federally recognized tribe or status as an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation shareholder
  • Becoming newly eligible for Marketplace coverage because you became a U.S. citizen
  • Leaving incarceration
  • Starting or ending service as an AmeriCorps State and National, VISTA, or NCCC member

How do I get help enrolling in the Marketplace?

In all states, there will be people trained and certified to help you understand your health coverage options and enroll in a plan. In Louisiana they are known as the Louisiana Healthcare Navigators. Visit our Contact Us section here on this website to get contact information for a Navigator in your area.  You can also fill out the Request Enrollment Assistance form and a Health Insurance Navigator will contact you to set up an appointment.

What if I have job-based insurance?

If you have job-based health insurance you like, you can keep it.  You may be able to change to Marketplace coverage if you want to.

If your health care premium is more than 9.5% of your gross income, you may choose what your employer offers or shop for insurance through the marketplace.

How can I get lower costs on Marketplace coverage?

When you use the Health Insurance Marketplace you may be able to get lower costs on monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs, or get free or low-cost coverage.

You can save money in the Health Insurance Marketplace 3 ways. All of them depend on your income and family size.

  • You may be able to lower costs on your monthly premiums when you enroll in a private health insurance plan. These plans all cover essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions.
  • You may qualify for lower out-of-pocket costs for co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles.
  • You or your child may get free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Some states have expanded Medicaid eligibility, so you may qualify even if you have been turned down for Medicaid in the past.

What exactly am I applying for in the Health Insurance Marketplace?

In addition to comparing multiple health insurance plans offered by different private health insurance companies, consumers who complete and submit an application through the Health Insurance Marketplace will find out whether or not they qualify for financial assistance to help pay for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

What steps do I need to take in order to apply for health insurance through the Marketplace?

You can apply for Marketplace health coverage online at, by phone at 1-800-318-2596, with a paper application, or with the help of a trained associate in your community.

I have completed an application and submitted it to the Health Insurance Marketplace. Now what do I do?

That depends on how you submitted your application. If you completed a paper application you will need to wait for the Marketplace to contact you with your eligibility determination in order to find out whether or not you are eligible to enroll in health insurance through the Marketplace and whether or not you qualify for financial assistance to help pay for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

If you completed an application over the phone or through the Marketplace website,, you should know the results of your eligibility determination instantly.

Regardless, once you know the results of your eligibility determination you are ready to compare prices for different health insurance plans in order to find out which one best meets your needs.

I submitted an application for financial assistance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and I disagree with the results of my eligibility determination. What can I do?

You can file an appeal and have your issue revisited.

You can appeal the following kinds of Marketplace decisions:

  • Whether you’re eligible to buy a Marketplace plan
  • Whether you can enroll in a Marketplace plan outside the regular open enrollment period
  • Whether you’re eligible for lower costs based on your income
  • The amount of savings for which you are eligible
  • Whether you’re eligible for Medicaid or the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LACHIP)
  • Whether you are eligible for an exemption from the individual responsibility requirement for tax years before 2019 

I chose my health insurance plan, paid my first month’s premium, and received my welcome package with my health insurance cards from my insurance provider. Is there anything else I need to do?

You still need to keep up with any life changes that may affect your eligibility for health insurance or financial assistance. Report any changes in expected household income or household size to the Health Insurance Marketplace as soon as possible in order to ensure that information about your current Marketplace eligibility and financial assistance is up to date.

How does the Affordable Care Act affect my Federal Income Tax Return?

Consumers who qualify for financial assistance through the Health Insurance Marketplace will receive Advance Premium Tax Credits to help pay for health insurance purchased through the Marketplace. You will need to provide information about your tax credit when you file your Federal Income Tax Return.

How do I report information about my Advance Premium Tax Credit when I file my Federal Income Tax Return?

The Marketplace will provide you with form 1095-A if you purchased health insurance through the Individual Marketplace for yourself or your family. This form will detail the amount tax credit you received for the applicable tax year. Be sure to check your email and/or traditional mail for your 1095-A and never throw away information sent from the Health Insurance Marketplace.

I have not received any information from the Health Insurance Marketplace after completing my eligibility application. What should I do?

You should receive a notification from the Health Insurance Marketplace detailing your eligibility for insurance and/or financial assistance after completing and submitting an application. You will either receive notification through traditional mail or via e-mail (depending on which notification method you chose when submitting your application to the Marketplace). If you do not receive an eligibility determination, you should contact the Marketplace by phone or by logging into your Marketplace account on to check the status of your application and to ensure that your contact information is up-to-date.

I did not have health coverage last year, and I am worried about the penalty. What can I do?

If you did not have health coverage at all in 2018, you may be subject to a penalty when you reconcile your Federal Income Tax Return. Beginning in tax year 2019, there is no longer a penalty for not having health insurance.

Note: Some states have their own individual health insurance mandate, requiring you to have qualifying health coverage or pay a fee with your state taxes for the 2019 plan year. If you live in a state that requires you to have health coverage and you don’t have coverage (or an exemption):

  • You’ll be charged a fee when you file your 2019 state taxes.
  • You won’t owe a fee on your federal tax return.

To find this year’s fee, click here.

If you only had coverage for part of 2018, your penalty will be prorated for the months that you did not have coverage. You will not pay a penalty for months that you had health coverage. You are considered covered in a given month if you had health coverage for at least one day in that month.
Some individuals will be exempt from the penalty. Exemptions can be found here.

What if I don’t qualify for assistance on the Marketplace and/or the health coverage is too expensive? How can I get access to basic primary care for myself and my family?

You should contact your local Federally Qualified Health Center. Federally Qualified Health Centers provide low-cost primary care to under-served rural and urban communities. They can help you meet your basic primary care needs in addition to providing referral and eligibility information for State and Federal assistance programs that you may qualify for. You can find a list of FQHCs here.

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