10 things you need to know about Affordable Care Act starting Oct. 1

Many of the changes take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, including a ban on denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, no more annual limits on coverage, and Medicaid expansion in certain states. (Michigan’s expanded Medicaid program won’t be implemented until late March or early April.)
1. What’s the marketplace?
The marketplace, also known as the exchange, will act as an online clearinghouse where residents and small businesses can compare plans and buy insurance. healthcare.gov
2. I have insurance through my employer. What do I need to know?
You’ll still see changes even if you decide to stick with your employer’s insurance plan and don’t purchase coverage on the exchange.
3. I have individual insurance. Now what?
You can continue with your same insurer, but your current plan will most likely change next year to comply with the Affordable Care Act.
4. What are my options?
Plans are divided into four categories: bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
5. How much will it cost?
The prices for plans on Michigan’s health exchange won’t become public until Oct.  Examples from major cities
6. Am I eligible for a subsidy?
Americans in certain income levels can apply for tax credits or subsidies to help offset the cost of plans purchased on the health care exchange. healthcare.gov
7. What do the plans cover?
Starting in 2014, all individual and small group health plans must offer certain products and services known as “essential health benefits.
8. How do I apply for coverage and subsidies?
To apply, visit healthcare.gov or call 800-318-2596 starting Oct. 1.
9. Who can help me apply?

The law provides funding for health insurance navigators, which are people or organizations that are trained to help consumers and businesses shop for and purchase insurance on the marketplace.

10. What are the fees if I don’t buy insurance?
The individual mandate kicks in next year, meaning you could have to pay a government fee if you don’t have minimum health coverage.
The fee in 2014 is 1 percent of your annual income or $95 per person, whichever is higher. The fee for uninsured children is $47.50 each, with a maximum of $285 per family.

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