'Obamacare' goes into effect Tuesday: What you need to know - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

'Obamacare' goes into effect Tuesday: What you need to know

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Three and a half years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, Americans can start purchasing plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace Tuesday.

There are 48 million uninsured Americans; the Obama administration thinks about 24 million people who are uninsured will take part in the new health insurance marketplaces, and their goal is to have 7 million people signed up when coverage starts on January 1.

And while the plans will differ in price by location within and across all 50 states because they are offered regionally by local companies, there are major similarities for everyone who chooses coverage through the Marketplace.

The plans will be structured in tiers, or "metal plans." Individuals and families will be able to select from plans in four tiers, known as "bronze," "silver," "gold," and "premium" plans.

The major difference between the plans is the payment structure. If you buy the "bronze" plan, you're going to have a lower monthly premium, but when you go to the doctor your co-pay, your deductible, and other fees will be higher.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you buy the "platinum" plan, you're going to spend more on your monthly premium, but when you go to the doctor you'll pay less money.

But across all plans, there should be no higher premiums if you get sick, there should be no denial of coverage if you have a pre-existing condition, and you should have no fees for preventive care.

To encourage people to participate, you'll receive tax credits if you're an individual making less than $46,000 or a family of four making less than $94,000 a year and you sign up for a plan.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a summary of premium estimates based on the four-tier structure to give people an idea of eventual costs. The Obama administration has compared buying an insurance policy in the Marketplace to paying a cell phone bill, saying that after tax credits, many plans could cost individuals and families less than $100 each month.

You can start shopping online for those different plans Tuesday, but there are a lot of dates to remember from now until the early spring.

You need to sign up by December 14 if you want your coverage to begin on January 1, the first day the plans go into effect. And if you are uninsured and don't buy some form of health insurance plan by March 31, 2014, you'll be charged with a penalty - otherwise known the "individual mandate."

The Obama administration has said few people will be exempt from the individual mandate.

To learn more about your different options, visit www.healthcare.gov.

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