Shopping the Exchanges for Health Insurance

martinis and your money

Shopping the Exchanges for Health Insurance

On this episode of Martinis and Your Money, I’m talking to Jennifer Fitzgerald, founder and CEO of PolicyGenius, about healthcare: What you need to know about the Exchanges, how hard you should hold onto your family doctor, and the benefits that may be available to you. Figuring out healthcare on your own can be extremely frustrating and difficult to understand. PolicyGenius has created a great resource to simplify the process for you. Cheers!

What are we drinking?

Jennifer — Coffee

Shannon — Coffee

Podcast Notes

  • PolicyGenius is a company meant to help consumers shop for and pick the right insurance policy – including life insurance, disability insurance, pet insurance, and as of November 2016, health insurance.
  • Among all the financial decisions someone makes in a year, health insurance is a really important and difficult one, and PolicyGenius strives to make it easier to understand and find the right policy.
  • Open enrollment is a 3-month period that runs every year where anyone without insurance through their employer is able to purchase health insurance.
  • The purchasing period for health insurance is so restrictive so people are not able to game the system and purchase health insurance right before or after a serious medical incident occurs.
  • People who already have health insurance, either through their employer or on their own, and do not like their plan should reevaluate and choose the best policy for them during this time.
  • It is common for people to continue with their health insurance plan even if they are not satisfied with it.
  • Shannon says she notices a lot of times people are actually over-insured or under-insured.
  • PolicyGenius captures every state’s plans and offerings based on the zip code.
  • A big decision to consider with health insurance is the premium you pay and the out-of-pocket costs associated with health care – with a high premium out of pocket costs are less and with a low membership, the out of pocket costs are higher.
  • Jennifer says its like choosing a health club membership.
  • The Exchange is a government term for the online health insurance marketplace.
  • The main marketplace is
  • Some states opted to create their own marketplace and are not included on the federal government marketplace.
  • Financial assistance and subsidies are things people often don’t know much about.
  • If you make between $12,000 and $45,000 a year, you qualify for financial assistance in the form of a tax credit, which you can opt to take a head of time to put towards what you pay for health insurance.
  • If you qualify for a subsidy, you have to purchase an on-exchange plan as those are the only plans the subsidy may be applied to.
  • All of the marketplaces have a subsidy calculator that allow you to check if you qualify.
  • There are penalties for not having health insurance.
  • The tax penalty this year is 2.5% of your income or $600 per person and occurs if you don’t have health insurance for more than 3 months in a row.
  • Shannon says she has had plenty of clients find good healthcare plans on the marketplace.
  • PolicyGenius allows you to shop for insurance anonymously and walks you through the purchasing process.
  • Jennifer cautions people to not pick a health insurance plan based on whether your doctor accepts it or not because that could change suddenly.
  • There is a deadline to enroll on the 15th of every month during the open enrollment period in order to be covered by the 1st of the following month.

Random Three Questions

  1. Are you a holiday movie or music fan?
  2. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you live and why?
  3. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Connect with Jennifer:


Bonus: Live from The Financial Gym

  • Shannon and Bridget are drinking White Claw Hard Seltzer which is available to gym members at the Financial Gym location!
  • Bridget is back today to discuss a story she has with healthcare insurance.
  • After leaving her previous job where she received health insurance and had to purchase a plan on her own, she opted to stay enrolled in her same plan.
  • What she didn’t realize is that she was enrolled in a plan that cost $720 a month when paying it herself!
  • Bridget decided to use PolicyGenius to find a new policy.
  • She discusses her experience with PolicyGenius as well as the steps she took to find and purchase a new policy through their site.
  • Searching for a new plan and filling out the application was a very quick and straightforward process.

Have you had to shop for your health insurance?

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.


  1. This was so helpful. I feel like I have a better understanding on health care. I am not going to lie when I say that I get overwhelmed with how health care works and what exactly should I be getting. Especially when it comes to subsidy. I knew about it but I didn’t know how it works. Thanks to your pod cast, I feel like I have a better handle on it and you cleared the air for me. I think I am going to check out Policy Genius.

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