Looking back, Sam Bloechl knows that when the health insurance broker who was helping him find a plan asked whether he’d ever been diagnosed with a major illness, that should have been a red flag. Preexisting medical conditions don’t matter when you buy a comprehensive individual plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act. Insurers can’t turn people down or charge them more based on their medical history.
But Bloechl, now 31, didn’t know much about health insurance back in December of 2016 when he was shopping for that health plan in Chicago. So when the broker told him a UnitedHealthcare Golden Rule plan would cover him for a year for less than his ACA marketplace plan — “Unless you like throwing money away, this is the plan you should buy,” he recalls the agent saying — he signed up.