The new health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will begin enrolling people on October 1st. People who do not have health insurance can purchase private health insurance in the marketplaces. The initial open enrollment is for six months, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2014 for those who sign up in time. When individuals apply they will learn whether they qualify for subsidies to make the policies more affordable. Low and moderate income people with incomes less than 400% of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual and $94,200 for a family of four) are eligible for premium tax credits. For people who have questions, the marketplace consumer call center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-318-2596 (hearing impaired callers using TTY/TDD can dial 1-855-889-4325), with translation services available in 150 languages. Visit HealthCare.gov or CuidadodeSalud.gov to learn more or participate in a live chat with a trained customer service provider. Individuals will still be able to enroll in the marketplaces even if the federal government shuts down.
The ACA also created a new health insurance marketplace for small businesses looking to provide health insurance coverage (known as the SHOP exchange). The Administration announced last week that that there would be a delay in the operation of the online enrollment for the federally run SHOP exchanges. Small businesses will still be able to submit a paper application on Oct. 1 – they just won’t be able to enroll online. States that are running their own marketplaces are not affected by this delay. The SHOP exchanges are open year-round and do not have a time limited enrollment period.