While Obamacare goes into effect Tuesday morning, many are still left with questions.
Joseph Horvath, a CSA with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, explains some of the basics.
First, if you have insurance through your job or through a public program like Medicare or Medicaid, the new health care law doesn't apply to you.
Starting Oct. 1, people who do not have health insurance or who currently buy their own insurance will be able to shop for coverage plans in the health insurance marketplace.
Horvath explains the marketplace is a new online site where Americans can find and apply for private insurance coverage.
"You can apply both online and paper applications," Horvath says. "The easiest way to access information is on www.healthcare.gov."
In the health insurance marketplace, you may be able to lower the costs of your health insurance coverage by paying lower monthly premiums. Horvath says you'll see the amount of savings you're eligible for when you fill out your marketplace application.
Prices shown for insurance plans will reflect the lower costs. The cost of the insurance varies based on the plan you choose.
There are four coverage options: bronze, silver, gold and platinum, with bronze being the least expensive plan and platinum the most expensive.
They all vary by the cost of your deductible.
"Essentially, [the bronze] will run like a 60/40 plan, the silver like a 70/30 plan, 80/20 for the gold, and 90/10 for the platinum," Horvath said.
Nine insurance carriers have applied to the marketplace to carry insurance plans. In southwest Virginia those that will be available to you are Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, Coventry, Optima Health, and United Health Care.
Many people can get a federal government subsidy to help with the cost, depending on household income and family size.
The lower your income, the higher your savings will be.
These figures are based on 2013 numbers and are likely to be slightly higher in 2014.
If you sign up by Dec. 15, 2013, your insurance coverage will begin on Jan. 1, 2014. You have until March 31, 2014, to enroll in a plan. There will be a penalty fee if you don't sign up.
It's also important to know that insurance companies can no longer refuse to cover you if you're already sick before you sign up for a coverage plan. Essentially, this means that pre-existing conditions will be a thing of the past, and, starting Tuesday, if you are diagnosed with an illness you are still eligible for insurance and insurance will cover those medical fees.