Affordable Care Act: What you need to know

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The first phase of the Affordable Care Act rollout begins October 1 with the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Here are some resources and other helpful information that explain what you need to know.Healthcare


This website went live on Oct. 1, and can help Illinois residents compare health insurance plans. There’s FAQs and a glossary of terms; plus, you can also find out how to talk with people over the phone or face-to-face if you have questions.

This website, created by the federal government, tells you what you need to know about the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can also sign up here to get email alerts for the latest news and updates on the Affordable Care Act. This is also where you apply to the Health Insurance Marketplace.

This link can help you find organizations that have people you can meet with that will help you navigate and sign up the

Subsidy Calculator from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website, “This tool illustrates health insurance premiums and subsidies for people purchasing insurance on their own in new health insurance exchanges (or “Marketplaces”) created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Consumer Reports created this website “to give consumers accurate and unbiased information about this complex new law and how it affects them,” they say.

Be Covered Illinois is a grassroots campaign introducing uninsured Illinoisans to the new health insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act. The campaign provides user-friendly information and on-the-ground guidance to help families understand the new health care law.

Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s “Obamacare Toolkit”

From Rep. Schakowsky’s website: “This Obamacare Toolkit is designed to help you learn about the many benefits of Obamacare and how you can take advantage of them. Whether you have insurance or need insurance, if you’re a small business or a health care provider, Obamacare will have benefits for you.”

Or, call 1-800-318-2596 for assistance. 




(Information from

The Marketplace is a new way to find quality health coverage. It can help if you don’t have coverage now or if you have it but want to look at other options. With one Marketplace application, you can learn if you can get lower costs based on your income, compare your coverage options side-by-side, and enroll.

There are 3 key dates you’ll want to mark on your calendar:

October 1, 2013: Marketplace open enrollment starts

Open enrollment starts October 1, 2013. You can compare and select from private health insurance plans in the new Marketplace. You’ll learn if you can get lower costs on your insurance before you enroll in a plan.

You’ll also learn if you qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). (You can apply for Medicaid and CHIP right now. Visit the links above to learn more.)

After reviewing your options, you can choose a plan that fits your needs and budget and enroll.

January 1, 2014: Health coverage can start

If you enroll in a private health insurance plan any time between October 1, 2013 and December 15, 2013 and make your first premium payment, your new health coverage starts January 1, 2014.

During the rest of open enrollment, if you enroll between the 1st and 15th day of the month and pay your premium, your coverage begins the first day of the next month. So if you enroll on February 10, 2014, your coverage begins March 1, 2014.

If you enroll between the 16th and the last day of the month and pay your premium, your effective date of coverage will be the first day of the second following month. So if you enroll on February 16, 2014, your coverage starts on April 1, 2014.

March 31, 2014: Open enrollment ends

Open enrollment for 2014 health insurance coverage closes on March 31, 2014. Be sure to visit the Marketplace and enroll in a plan before this date.

After March 31, 2014, you can get new private health insurance for 2014 only through a special enrollment period if you have a qualifying life event like a job loss, birth, or divorce.

You can apply for Medicaid and CHIP any time

The Marketplace will tell you whether you qualify for Medicaid or theChildren’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). If you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, your coverage can begin immediately. You can also apply for either of these programs right now, before open enrollment begins. Follow the the links above to learn more.

Small employers can start SHOP coverage any time

Small employers generally may start offering health insurance coverage to their employees through the SHOP Marketplace at any time during the year.

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