Health Insurance Marketplaces Open

The health insurance marketplaces are open! Let the questions begin.

What are the deadlines I need to know? By January 1, 2014, everyone must have health insurance. There is no penalty if you are below the poverty line and your state did not expand Medicaid. If you buy insurance on the health insurance marketplace, you must buy before December 15, 2013, for coverage to start on January 1. You can purchase health insurance on the marketplace until March 31, 2014. To see an estimate of your premiums before tax credits are applied, go to the “window shopping” link at healthcare.gov/find-premium-estimates.

What happens if my income changes over the year? Will I have to repay my premium subsidy? When you buy coverage in the health insurance marketplaces, you use last year’s tax forms to estimate next year’s income. If you anticipate changes to your income, you should factor those in, and come up with the most accurate income estimate you can. If you end up making more than what you estimated and your premium subsidy is too big, you may have to pay some of the subsidy back. If you make less than your estimate, there is no penalty.

What if I need help purchasing insurance? There are a number of ways to get help with your health insurance purchase. Healthcare.gov answers some commonly asked questions on their website. There is an online chat function too, where you can ask questions via your computer to a live person. If you prefer phone, there’s a help line open 24 hours a day, call 1.800.318.2596 (TTY: 1.855.889.4325).

There are also people trained to help you. They are called “navigators,” “application assisters,” or “certified application counselors.” You can also go to various government agencies, such as Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offices. Insurance agents and brokers can also help. Visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov to find help in your area.

Scammer alert! If a stranger calls you asking for personal information like your Social Security number, do not give it to them. Contact one of the places above instead.