Here are answers to some of the most common questions.
Q: How will the exchanges work?
A: Health insurance exchanges will be marketplaces where small businesses and individuals who don’t get health insurance through their employer can shop, compare, and purchase health plans.
The exchanges, which will be up and running in 2014, will offer health care consumers the full range of private and public health insurance options available to them in their state.
The goal of the exchanges is to make it easier for small businesses and individuals to compare health plans side by side and to evaluate price, quality, and provider networks prior to signing up.
By pooling millions of people together in this marketplace, small business and individuals will gain the same bulk purchasing power large employers have, creating more competition among insurance companies, with the goal of driving down costs.
Tax credits will be made available to people buying insurance on the exchanges to make care more affordable.
Q: Who will run the exchanges?
A: Each state has the option of creating and operating its own health insurance exchange(s), and will be offered federal money to do so.
Each state may also choose to opt out of running its own health insurance exchange(s), in which case the federal government will do so on its behalf.
Q: Where can I get a copy of the law? Is it online?
A: Yes, the Affordable Care Act is online and available for anyone to read.
The law, in full, is available by section on Healthcare.gov under the heading About the Law. The government’s web site also breaks down each provision. And you can learn about when various aspects of the law take effect on the timeline of what’s changing and when.