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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, no matter the level of controversy it raised back in 2010, is close to reaching the next three intermediate steps everybody is talking about and waiting for, holding their breath.

Government officials strongly advice the citizens to keep their eyes on the calendar, as starting with October 1, 2013, the marketplace open enrollments begin. Many studies and extensive social and financial research were dedicated to the health insurance marketplaces, while the basic definition explains that from now on, people will be able to find the best health care plan for them and for their families, according to their budget and their personal, specific needs.

What exactly will happen starting with October 1st?

The new insurance marketplace offers the public a range of health insurance plans they can choose from, while learning in the same time how and if (and according to what criteria) they can benefit from lower costs before signing the deal and following a specific health plan.

Four things to know about the marketplace

  1. You will not find only private health insurers’ offers, but also co – ops of doctors and NGO’s who fit the state insurance policies. The marketplace will offer you the flexibility of choosing higher or lower deductibles and premiums.
  2. You will fill out an application which will point you on the right track of eligibility: premium discounts, low – cost programs such as Medicaid or CHIP or out – of – pocket expenses on the point of care.
  3. You will receive an eligibility assessment which will in turn lead you to enrolling in a specific health insurance plan
  4. You will be however able to make updates and changes, if your personal status (marriage, divorce, job issues) suffers modifications that need an eligibility reevaluation, still being able to keep your insurance from one year to another.

The next big date

Everybody expects January 1st, 2014, as the date of insurance exchanges becoming fully operational. The advice we get from the government is to enroll in a health insurance plan anytime between October 1st 2013 and December 15th 2013, provided we pay our first premium during that time, so we could start the year already benefitting from the chosen health coverage. If we skip this time frame and consider enrolling later, the regulations stipulate that any enrollment made and paid between the first and the fifteenth of every month will determine the full health coverage to become functional in the first day of the next month. If we enroll in the second half of the month, the coverage will become functional in the second following month.

Who else will be eligible for health insurance that wasn’t eligible before?

Starting with January 1st 2014, new segments of the population will be able to benefit from the Medicaid program:

  • Adults with low income, independently of them having or not dependent children
  • Children with low income who lose their Medicaid benefits when they get reclassified as adults at the age of 19
  • Adults with disabilities and low income who are not eligible for SSDI or SSI

The closing date

Enrollment to the new health care plans ends on March 31st 2014. Although it’s quite unlikely people will pass the date without enrolling, there is still an opportunity to benefit from health coverage for the rest of the year but only if you go through a personal life event. The Special Enrollment Period qualifies eligible life events as moving to another state, get a divorce, get married, get pregnant, have a baby or losing your job.