5. Where do I sign up?
Go to the web site healthcare.gov. If you live in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, or Washington, D.C., you’ll find a link to your state’s Marketplace. Those states are operating their own Marketplaces.
If you live in any other state, the federal government is operating the Marketplace, or is operating the Marketplace in partnership with your state. Go to healthcare.gov to create an account, explore your options, and buy insurance.
WebMD also has a specialty page for each state that includes information specific to your state and links to state Marketplaces.
You also can sign up in person at special events that will be scheduled in your town or city and at designated community centers, government offices, and health care facilities. You also can sign up by phone. Call 800-318-2596 if you live in a state where the federal government is running the Marketplace.
6. How do I compare plans?
Each state web site has information about all the plans being offered. The web site for your state’s Marketplace will include information about how much the policy will cost, how much the deductibles are, how much the copayments are, and other details.
You will have many different coverage options, depending on where you live. About 95% of consumers will have a choice of two or more plans. There is no government plan. All the health plans are offered through private insurance companies.
If you earn too much to be eligible for tax credits, there are also many individual plans available outside the Marketplace.
You can also check out the WebMD Coverage Adviser, which is a tool that lets you compare total costs (premiums and out-of-pocket expenses) based on where you live, your family size, and what conditions or prescription drugs you use.
7. What’s the deadline for getting insurance?
Under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans must have insurance in 2014. Open enrollment started Oct. 1 and runs through March 31, 2014. If you want insurance to begin Jan. 1, 2014, you'll need sign up no later than Dec. 15, 2013. If you have coverage through early next year, you can wait a few months to sign up. Just make sure you purchase insurance by no later than March 31, 2014. The next enrollment period will be Oct. 15, 2014, to Dec. 7, 2014.
If you have a “life-changing event” such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, you may be able to change your coverage during the year.
8. Can family members have separate policies?
Yes, you can buy separate policies if you want. When reporting your income, though, you must use your household income, not your individual income.