'Health care act' insurance policies go on sale Oct. 1

11:26 PM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Love it or hate it, the health care act will reach a significant milestone in less than a month.

Open enrollment begins October 1.

That's when uninsured Americans can start to sign up for health-insurance coverage under the new Act -- coverage that will take effect on January1.

People have to be smart about all of this, regardless of whether they love it or hate it.

It is easy to find out what insurance information is out there, aside from the politics of it, to make a smart decision.

First of all, of course, there is the place where the health care plan will be headquartered, so to speak.

It is the government's website, healthcare.gov.

Healthcare.gov is the place where people will shop for insurance under the Act.

"And they'll be able to see what their insurance options are, compare plans, see what their premiums will be, and in some cases, many cases, be eligible for subsidies to be applied directly to their premiums," said Amanda Ptashkin on Thursday.

Ptashkin is with Georgians for a Healthy Future, and she points out that the subsidies apply to people on a sliding scale, based on family income.

The Kaiser Family Foundation website has an on-line calculator, where you can see if you and your family will be able to qualify for cheaper, subsidized health insurance, and, if so, how much your subsidy, and your premiums, will likely be.

Subsidized or full price, the policies that people will be buying will be private health insurance, not government insurance. They'll be able to shop around on healthcare.gov to see which company can get them the best deal.

"This is a competitive marketplace," Ptashkin said. "So if you've used the websites like Orbitz.com, or Travelocity, where you've put in information and get a matrix of choices, that's what the marketplace will be. It'll show you apples-to-apples comparisons of plans."

Another site, from Consumer Reports, lists "seven things you need to know now" as open enrollment approaches.

"I would just encourage people to really find out the facts, and put politics aside, and look into what will make sense for yourselves and your family," Ptashkin said.

And if you already have health insurance, at your job or on your own, you don't have to do anything under the health care act

But if you do not have health insurance and you do not buy a policy from somebody, you will pay a fine unless you fall under one of the exemptions.

But the fine the first year-- next year-- is a fine of $95. It goes up in later years. But, at first, anyway, the fine is a fraction of the $200 a month, or $300 a month, or more, that policies under the Act will cost.

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