Basically, what puts the “affordable” in the Affordable Care Act plans is the presence of subsidies, which are available only on plans purchased via a public exchange. There are eligibility requirements if a person wants to receive these subsidies.
To qualify a person:
- Must live in the U.S.
- Be a U.S. citizen or national, or be lawfully present in the US
- Have a household income between 133% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level and
- Cannot be currently incarcerated
If you do not meet these requirements, you may still apply for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but you would not qualify for government subsidies to help you pay for the coverage. In this case you are probably better off purchasing through a private exchange during the Annual Open Enrollment period or through a private insurance agent (because there are more plans and carrier options in the private market).