Before you can pick which plan is best for you, you'll need to know which plans you're eligible for. A new tool from the government makes this step easier than it's ever been before. If you go to HealthCare.gov, you can plug in a few details about your age, location and health status and get a list of public and private options to consider. For example, if you have a pre-existing condition, you may be eligible for the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program that's being run by some state governments (the federal government runs the program in some states). If you've lost your job, you can learn more about COBRA, while if you report that you have children, you'll be reminded of the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
If you'd like to buy a plan from a private insurer, the Web site lists the companies that are operating in your area and provides links to their Web sites. For example, Asheville, N.C., has 11 companies operating in the area, collectively offering a total of 31 plans. Which one is right for you? Keep reading for some questions to consider about each option.