NEW YORK (MainStreet) The Affordable Care Act. Obamacare. Whatever you call it, it's happening.
Beginning in 2014, all Americans will be required to have health insurance. Anyone who doesn't have coverage will have to pay a fine. If you already have health insurance through your employer, not much will change. According to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 57% of Americans fall into this category.
If you don't have coverage through an employer, you'll need to get familiar with the Health Insurance Marketplace, sometimes called the Exchange. The marketplace simplifies the search for health insurance by gathering all available options in one place and explaining them in easy to understand language. You can compare costs and benefits across plans, as well as apply and enroll in your chosen plan. This must take place during the open enrollment period, which lasts from October through March of next year.
Navigating the system is fairly straightforward, but if you've got questions, we've got answers.
Each state has its own version of the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can find your state's marketplace by going to HealthCare.gov and clicking on "get insurance."
Under the Affordable Care Act, some people will end up paying more for insurance while others will pay less. In some cases, tax credits will be available to reduce the cost of health insurance premiums. You can use the Kaiser Family Foundation subsidy calculator to find out if you qualify.
The Marketplace breaks down plans into four categories: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. All plans offer the same essential benefits as well as the same quality of care. The only difference is in the way you pay for your health care. Bronze plans have lower monthly premiums, but higher out-of-pocket costs.