There are other plans available year-round that are not individual major medical coverage. Most of these plans are not recommended as stand-alone coverage (with the exception of short-term plans, which can be adequate stand-alone coverage if you're healthy and you know that you need the coverage for only a short time; they are usually not at all adequate for longer-term coverage). These plans are not regulated by the Affordable Care Act, which means they can exclude pre-existing conditions, impose dollar caps on your coverage, and don't have to cover the ACA's essential health benefits. In most cases, these plans cannot really be compared with an employer-sponsored plan, since the coverage will be so much lower quality. If an insurance offer sounds too good to be true, read the fine print carefully. It may end up being a poor substitute for real health insurance, and you don't want to learn those details after you have a major claim.
However, they might still be able to find a less expensive plan in the individual/family market, even paying full price for the premiums. It would almost certainly have a higher deductible and out-of-pocket exposure than the plan Doug's employer offers, but that might be a trade-off that the family considers worthwhile. Doug might find that his employer-sponsored coverage for just himself is very affordable, since employers often pay more towards the employee's premiums than they pay towards additional family members' premiums. So Doug's family might opt to keep Doug on the employer-sponsored plan and get an individual market plan for his wife and kids.
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