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Get Ready For the New Health Insurance Marketplaces

Health Insurance Marketplaces are a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that can help you get health insurance regardless of income or health history. You can start exploring your options now, enroll in October, and start taking advantage of the benefits of your state Health Insurance Marketplace beginning in January 2014.

People looking for health insurance can shop and compare plans through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as healthcare exchanges. The Health Insurance Marketplace will help you find insurance plans that cover medical services including preventive care, medicines, doctor and hospital visits.

Now is the time to learn about how they work, how to prepare for open enrollment, and what kind of insurance options are available to you right now.

The New Health Insurance Marketplace

Each state will have its own Health Insurance Marketplace, which you can access online (some are already available). The exchanges are designed to help you:

  • Figure out how to compare and get healthcare insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition or chronic health problem
  • Find the insurance plan that fits your budget. Some people might qualify for free or low-cost health insurance
  • Understand the enrollment process in a way that’s easy to read

Enrollment Begins October of 2013

The enrollment process begins October 1. But you can prepare by doing the following:

  • Individuals and families:
  • Get to know the different healthcare plans available in your state if the exchange has already been set up. Specifically, make sure you understand how the deductibles and co-pays work
  • Ask your employer if she plans to offer health insurance
  • Prepare a list of questions about your health coverage
  • Small business owners:
  • Get to know the different healthcare plans available so that you understand the differences in costs and services
  • Set a budget based on how much both you and your employees will spend on health insurance
  • Set a date to begin offering coverage that works best for your business and your employees

Your Insurance Options Now

You don’t have to wait until 2014 to get health coverage. There are several public programs available for families, including Medicare, Medicaid and low-cost insurance programs for children and adults.

HealthCare.gov has a tool to help you find insurance. You just need to answer a few questions about where you live and your current job situation.

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