Affordable Care Act: Your questions answered - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Affordable Care Act: Your questions answered

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If you don't have health insurance, the clock starts ticking for you next week.  Beginning Wednesday, you'll have six months to buy coverage under the new Affordable Care Act. Lots of people are confused about just what that means, so FOX Medical Team reporter Beth Galvin got some answers.

The big question is, do you even need to shop for insurance on healthcare.gov?  Journalist Andy Miller, who runs the politically-independent GeorgiaHealthNews.org says if you're one of the 18 percent of Georgians who don't have health coverage or are self-insured and want a better deal, the answer is yes.

"If you have job-based insurance, you don't have to worry about this," Miller explained.  "If you're on Medicare, you don't have to worry about this."

If you do need insurance, you have six months to buy it, beginning October 1.  The penalty for not having coverage is $95, or 1 percent of your 2014 income—whichever is higher.  That fee will gradually go up to $695 per year.

So how do you find the right plan?

"You look at the costs, certainly, because that's on the minds of Americans," said Miller.  "But you should also look at whether your doctor or your hospital is on the network, too."

Miller says there's a good chance you qualify for a tax break, or a lower-cost plan.  If you earn $11,500 or less each year, you don't need to buy insurance.  And, if you're 30 or younger, you qualify for "catastrophic" coverage.  Miller says if you qualify for a subsidy, the plans can cost you less than $100 a month.

You can search for a "navigator" (or application counselor—to help you look over your options) starting October 1 on healthcare.org, and Miller says you should brace yourself.  He says there are bound to be glitches, hiccups and roadblocks as the process begins. How it will play out is anyone's guess.

"This is like the Super Bowl for the healthcare system," said Miller.  "But we're not going to know the score after three hours or even three months, we're going to figure out whether this thing is successful. It may take years."

Link: Find a navigator on healthcare.gov (Health Insurance Marketplace)

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