POSTED: Saturday, September 28, 2013 - 10:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, September 28, 2013 - 10:04am
BATON ROUGE, LA — On October 1, individuals will be able to sign up for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act through an online exchange. Eligible individuals must sign up by December 15, 2013 in order for their new plan to take effect on January 1, 2014. Open enrollment ends on March 31, 2014; anyone eligible but not enrolled at this point will face a fine.
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, recommended the top five activities that individuals should complete in preparing to enroll:
1. Go to the website (http://www.healthcare.gov ) and sign up to receive updates.
2. Gather information on household income (the same information you would use to prepare your taxes).
3. Set a target budget of what you can afford.
4. Understand how coverage works (for example: co-pays, premiums, deductibles, etc.).
5. Find a place locally to get information: pharmacies such as CVS or Rite Aid, libraries, federally-funded navigators, community health centers, etc. Select pharmacies will have in-person representatives from insurance providers to assist individuals.
On October 1, individuals will be able to log on to http://www.healthcare.gov  or call (800) 318-2596 to enroll. Through this online portal, individuals will have access to federally-funded navigators who have been trained to educate individuals about the plans available and assist them in signing up for coverage using the online exchange.
Costs of the new plans will be available on October 1 when the federally-run exchange opens. Tax credits and subsidies are calculated based on income; individuals with lower incomes are eligible for greater tax credits and subsidies.
Media coverage of the Oct. 1 start is encouraged to help raise public awareness about the steps individuals should take to purchase health insurance for themselves and their families.
For additional information, go to http://www.healthcare.gov.