Local News

Oct 1, 2013 5:21 PM by Sara Donchey

What You Need to Know About the Health Care Marketplace

CORPUS CHRISTI - Today, for the first time, you can shop for health insurance online. The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as "Obamacare", doesn't actually go into effect until January, but the registration process began today online and over the phone.

If you're already insured and you're happy with your plan or if you're on Medicare, you most likely will not be required to make any changes to your policy.

But if you're uninsured, you can use the Health Care Marketplace to shop for a plan.

The health care reform will require you to have insurance by 2014. If you choose not to buy coverage, you could be fined $95 dollars or 1 percent of your income, whichever is higher.

Those fees are set to increase each year.

There are a few exemptions from having to pay the fine, including if you are uninsured for less than three months or if your income is low enough that you are not required to file tax returns.

To sign up, you'll need a few things handy:

  • If you're employed, you'll need to know how much you make and have tax forms or pay stubs
  • Your social security number
  • An e-mail address if you're signing up for an account online

For the first time, you can't be denied insurance based on your medical history or pre-existing conditions. Therefore you won't need to refer to an extensive history of your health while signing up.

Health insurance plans are ranked as either platinum, gold, silver or bronze.

The platinum plans--which will cost you the most each month--cover the most medical expenses.

As you move from gold to bronze, plans will get cheaper. Conversely, they also won't cover as many medical costs.

You are required to register and fill out a series of questionnaires to figure out which plans you qualify for.

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