If you don’t think you can afford coverage, go ahead and fill out an application on your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace website. You may be eligible for low-cost coverage through newly-expanded Medicaid programs or new cost assistance options. By filling out an application, you can at least see your options or find out if you qualify for a “hardship exemption” so you won’t have to pay a penalty for going without insurance coverage.
If you can’t afford insurance after going through the marketplace, there may be clinics, community health centers, or hospitals in your area that provide free or low-cost care. These facilities can serve as a backstop until you can afford full coverage. If you’re a student, your school may also offer some basic services at no charge through the student health center. Check out our “Find a Doctor” section to find local clinics, or check with your school’s student health department to see what they offer.