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3 On Your Side: 3 Things To Know About Affordable Care Act

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Regardless of whether there is a partial shutdown of the government tomorrow or not, open-enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare is going forward.  Online marketplaces will open up allowing uninsured Americans to purchase health insurance.

But with so many people still confused about this law, and how it might affect them. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan tells us about three things you need to know.

First things first.  Who needs to take action?

If you have health insurance, whether it's through your employer, a union, you've bought it on your own, or it's provided to you by the government through Medicaid, Medicare, TRICARE for the military or the Veterans Administration, you don't have to do a thing.  That's right, nothing at all.

But if you are uninsured, October 1st is a big day. "We are open for business October 1st that's when we flip the switch and people then go into the marketplace and start compare plans," says Nancy O'Connor, Regional Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Where to go for information?

"The best source for the most accurate and up-to-date information is the website," says O'Connor.  On the website consumers will find health insurance plans offered in each state, will learn what they cover, and find out how much the plans will cost.  It's also the only place where you can see if you qualify for tax credits or discounts to purchase insurance.  Those credits are based on among other things, your income and family size.

When do you have to act?

"They have until December 15th to actually enroll in a plan if they want their coverage to start January 1st of 2014," says O'Connor.  If you don't sign up by December 15th you still can enroll up until March 31st.  After that date however the law says you'll have to wait until next fall to enroll and you will be charged a penalty.

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