The online health insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act are now live.
Through the federal government’s exchange – healthcare.gov – private companies will offer a variety of health insurance plans at different price points. The general “tiers” of coverage will range from catastrophic to platinum.
Many states are also running exchanges alongside the federal government. Alabama has opted not to do so at this time.
Those looking to buy insurance can visit healthcare.gov, select their state, create an account, then fill in some basic information including income and family size. They will then be able to browse locally available plans and purchase one deemed appropriate.
The exchanges will primarily serve those without insurance, or those who buy insurance privately and pay extremely high rates. The competitive structure of the marketplaces, along with some regulation is designed to hopefully keep costs low and coverage fair.
If you want coverage by January 1st you’ll have to buy a policy by mid-Decemebr. Those without insurance by March 2014 will likely have to pay a fine – about one percent of annual income.
Click here for more Affordable Care Act information including a Subsidy Calculator to help you estimate how much plans might cost you once federal subsidies based on income are factored in.