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SOURCES: Lisa Zamosky, health care reform expert
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When you see a document this big, it doesn't exactly scream "Read me!" does it?
That's why we're bringing the Affordable Care Act down to size for you.
And the good news is, the basics aren't all that complicated.
For starters, the Affordable Care Act is a law designed to give all Americans access to health insurance, and to give people who already have health insurance some new protection.
Some changes have already taken place.
For example, plans must cover the cost of preventive care that can help you stay healthy – like immunizations, mammograms, and colonoscopies.
And young people can already stay on their parent's insurance policies until they're 26.
But more big changes are set to kick in on January 1st, 2014.
Starting then, you can no longer be denied insurance or charged more because you have a pre-existing condition such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, or MS.
And insurance plans can’t put lifetime limits, or caps, on the benefits they pay.
Here's something else that happens on January 1st:
Most Americans will be required to have health insurance. And most will pay a penalty if they don't.
You'll be able to buy your coverage through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, which will help you compare plans and choose the one that's right for you.
Each state will have a marketplace, some run by the state and some run by the federal government.
You'll be able to shop in person or online starting October 2013
The Markeplace is also where to go to find out if you can get financial aid.
More people will qualify for subsidies, or tax credits, to help pay for their insurance.
Counselors called "navigators" will be available to help.
It's all designed to simplify the process of getting insurance.
So there you have it, the Affordable Care Act in a nutshell.
And don't worry, WebMD will be here for you 24/7 to help you ge started… offering our Quick Start Guide – a personalized walkthrough of the four simple steps:
Learn the Basics,
Know Your State Plan,
And Get Ready to Enroll.
If you want to learn more or follow the latest news, come visit us at WebMD.com/My Healthcare.
Get Your Personalized Action Plan.
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