An exchange is a government-run marketplace where people can buy health insurance plans.

One of the big questions everyone asks is “what’s the difference between buying a health plan on the exchange and off the exchange?”

The key difference is the subsidies. You can only get a subsidy if you’re buying your coverage on an exchange – they cannot be used towards plans purchased off the exchange.  An advantage of buying a plan off the exchange is you will generally have more choices available for you to choose from.

The same plan that is offered on the exchange and off the exchange may have some differences as well. Plans that are on the exchange may have more regulations, therefore requiring they feature additional benefits directly through the plan as opposed to needing a separate stand alone policy to provide the supplemental benefit (e.g. vision care, dental care, etc.) – off the exchange plans may not be subject to the same standards.

Off the exchange plans must still meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (including offering the 10 essential health benefits).

It’s important to remember than not every plan that is offered off the exchanges will be available on the exchanges. Carriers reserve the right not to offer coverage on the exchanges. Thus, some states may have numerous plan selections for consumers where others may have limited choices. Also, not every type of health insurance plan is available on the exchanges – short term policies and large group policies are not offered on exchanges at this time.

If you’d like a subsidy calculation, free quote comparison, or have any questions about health insurance plans, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-571-2980. You can also reach us by e-mail at 24 hours a day.