(RNN) - If you haven't already been hearing a lot about the federal health reform lately, chances are you will soon.
Several major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, are taking effect in the coming months. Some within days, such as the exchange websites launching Oct. 1.
Here are details on what's happening, how it works, and what it means for you.
A: In 2010, President Barack Obama enacted a law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The stated purpose is to "increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care."
A: If you have private group insurance, chances are it won't change. If you buy your own insurance and it meets the minimum requirements, you likely won't see change either. If it doesn't meet requirements, you may have to pick a new plan.
A: Yes, all plans sold on and off the Obamacare Health Care Exchange must include the following to be considered a Qualifying Health Plan:
A: The health insurance marketplaces (also known as exchanges) are estimated to provide up to 29 million people with affordable health insurance by 2019. Open enrollment for Obamacare's health insurance marketplace began on Oct. 1, 2013, and runs to March 31, 2014.
A: In the state-run health insurance marketplaces, the government-approved health insurance plans are divided into four tiers.
They range from lower quality, but more affordable "Bronze plans," to "Silver plans" to a more expensive plan with better coverage called a "Gold plan." There is also a "Platinum plan," the highest quality and cost plan.
Lower premium plans will have higher deductibles, fewer benefits and larger out of pocket costs.
A: For 2014, the yearly penalty is $95 for an adult, $47.50 per child, and up to $285 per family, or one percent of family income, whichever is greater. That will rise in coming years.
A: You can get exemptions in certain cases:
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in March 2012 that the ACA would newly insure 30 to 33 million people, leaving 26 to 27 million uninsured in 2016.
You can be exempt if the lowest priced coverage available to you would cost more than 8 percent of your household income. Those who do not file a tax return because of low income ($10,000 for an individual, $20,000 for a family in 2013), or those who are uninsured for fewer than three months of the year are also exempt.
A few other reasons for exemption include, being an undocumented immigrant, an incarcerated individual, a member of an Indian tribe, and those who belong to a religion opposed to acceptance of benefits from a health insurance policy.
A: There are several ways:
All of them depend on your income and family size.
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