First chance to enroll in Affordable Health Care Act days away

Published: Sep. 26, 2013 at 9:54 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2013 at 9:54 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace will launch in just five days.
October 1st is a major date for the president's health care plan. That's when thousands of people can register for coverage under the new law. Final preparations are underway in North Carolina.

The best thing to do is start researching your questions about the types of health coverage and figure out what you need to enroll. The government has set up a marketplace for you to shop.
If you enroll in a health insurance plan over the next few months, your coverage from that private company goes into affect January 2014.

Jeff McGee is 26, a student and works part-time. "And I'm too old to be on my parents insurance, I'm kind of in between a whole bunch of things right now," McGee said.

He is one of the 41 million people in the United States without health insurance. But he wants to change that.

"In case something happens medically I need to be able to take care of myself," said McGee.

And starting October 1st, a marketplace will open that's intended to make private insurance more affordable.

"There will be a lot of different choices people will have to make ," said Pat McCoy of ActionNC, "Some plans will have more coverage at higher cost some plans will have less coverage at less cost."

But shopping for health insurance can be daunting especially if you are on a budget and have a lot of choices.  In North Carolina, there are about 28 plans to chose from in the marketplace.

"It's an application," said Madison Hardee, "They want to know a lot of information about you and your family, your income, who's counted as dependents for tax purposes...all of those types of questions will be asked in the marketplace."

Hardee knows all about the marketplace because she's done training on it for 30 hours.  And she is what's called a navigator to help people with the process.

"We are encouraging people to think of October 1st as a starting line and not a deadline," said Hardee.

You can start gathering information about your household income and your budget because that could affect what you pay.

"It's hard to say what the average cost is because so many people anyone that's between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line will be eligible for some tax credits to help purchase the cost of insurance coverage, " said Hardee, "So their premium won't be the sticker price. It will be less."

Hardee said the marketplace will be ready to go on October 1st. And you don't have to have an appointment with a navigator to get answers to your questions, there is a web site with tons of information and if you don't have a computer or prefer to talk to someone, the phone number is 1-800-318-2596.

That hotline will be 24/7 and if you need assistance in a different language there are operators available in 150 languages.

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