Healthcare.gov, a website run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is already up and running. Someone with access to the Web can visit that site and get information that will provide guidance about where to get coverage. Plan and cost information will be posted on Oct. 1.
The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation also has an interactive program, called the Health Insurance Subsidy Calculator, which can give someone an idea of what to expect on their state’s exchange. The program asks about state of residence, family size, household income, age, and tobacco use, and provides an estimated annual cost for the different levels of coverage.
What if someone doesn’t have access to the Web?
Anyone can call HHS’s toll-free number to reach a customer service representative 24/7. The number is 1-800-318-2596.
When does the coverage go into effect?
Coverage goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014. But the open enrollment period run for six months, Oct. 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014.
What if someone discovers now that they’re qualified for Medicaid?
Someone who learns that they or their family now qualify for coverage under government low-income programs – either Medicaid or CHIP – can enroll immediately.
The ACA provides for the expansion of Medicaid by raising the income limits for eligibility, but expansion does not go into effect until Jan. 1. The US Supreme Court ruled in June 2012 that states could opt out of Medicaid expansion if they want; so far, 26 states have decided to expand eligibility for Medicaid, owing to the generous federal subsidies.