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Home > Subject Area Research / Affordable Care Act

Key Features of the Affordable Care Act   
 Source: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services/Health Care: Key Features of the Affordable Care Act

Are you ready? The timeline continues…

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all Americans will have access to affordable health insurance options. The Health Insurance Marketplace will allow individuals and small businesses to compare health plans on a level playing field. Middle and low-income families will get tax credits that cover a significant portion of the cost of coverage and the Medicaid program will be expanded to cover more low-income Americans. The Marketplace offers "one-stop shopping" to find and compare private health insurance options. Each state will have an exchange,  a place where consumers can purchase subsidized health insurance coverage, operated by either the federal government or by the state. 

4 steps to health insurance coverage:

  1. Create an account
  2. Apply starting October 1, 2013
  3. Pick a plan: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum
  4. Enroll

The plan category you choose affects how much your premium costs each month and what portion of the bill you pay for things like hospital visits or prescription medications. It also affects your total out-of-pocket costs —the total amount you’ll spend for the year if you need lots of care.  In 2013, the year of the first open enrollment period, consumers can begin enrolling in new health plans on October 1, 2013. This enrollment period will extend through March 31, 2014 and applies to employer provided health insurance as well as individually purchased health coverage. Coverage for plans enrolled in before December 31, 2013 should begin on January 1, 2014. For those enrolling in January or February of 2014, expectations are that coverage will begin the month following enrollment.  

Health Insurance Marketplace
Start here! This is the official site of the Health Insurance Marketplace and the place to sign up if you are an Ohio resident. Starting October 1, 2013, you can come here to fill out an application and see your plan choices. This is also where you can come to learn all about the Marketplace - just click on the Learn tab at the top of the page. For Spanish-speakers, click here.

How To Pick A Health Insurance Plan
This is a good overview of the Affordable Care Act from Consumer Reports, a trusted, authoritative source of information. Also from Consumer Reports, Health Reform: seven things you need to know now and Medicare: six things you need to know now

Marketplace Application Checklist
Use this checklist to gather together all the items, such as pay stubs and W-2 forms, which you will need in order to fill out your application for health insurance when enrollment begins October 1, 2013.

What Key Dates Do I Need to Know?

Help is available: 

Find Local Help 
Just type in your city and state or zip code and click on the Find Help button. A list will appear which includes the name of the local agency, address, phone number, office hours, web site and what help they provide. The "Helps With" choices are: Application Assisters, Medicaid or CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), Small Business Health Options (SHOP), and Non-English Language Support. Important note: Please check back regularly as additional organizations that can provide help will be added over the upcoming weeks.  For Spanish-speakers, click

Ohio Department of Insurance: Health Reform FAQs
Ohio will not have a state exchange but will be part of the exchange operated by the federal government. Here you will find frequently asked questions about the federal health reform.

Web Resources:

Can I Get Dental Coverage in the Marketplace?
Your options for getting dental care as part of your insurance coverage through the Marketplace are spelled out here. Many plans do include dental insurance or you can purchase it as a stand-alone dental plan.

Check Out 10 Health Insurance Benefits Covered in the Marketplace
No matter which plan you choose, you’ll get the same set of essential health benefits, like free preventive care and coverage for prescription drugs, emergency care, hospitalization, doctors’ visits, and many other health care services. And these benefits are just the start—plans may offer even more coverage. You’ll see exactly what each plan offers when you compare them in the Marketplace.

How Can I Protect Myself from Fraud in the Health Insurance Marketplace?
When you apply for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you can protect yourself from fraud by following a few simple guidelines which you will find detailed here.

Medline Plus: Health Insurance Updates
Sign up for emailed updates on health insurance and also find many links to informative resources on the Affordable Care Act.

The New Health Care Law & You
Provided by the Institute of Medicine, this is a detailed 22-page document about all the aspects of the Affordable Care Act with hyperlinks to helpful resources for even more information and help. 

Ohio Association of Foodbanks: the Main Affordable Care Act Navigator for Ohio
The Ohio Association of Foodbanks is the main Affordable Health Care Act Navigator for Ohio.  Their website provides information to Ohioans on accessing the the federal health insurance marketplace.   Their new hotline at 1-800-648-1176 allows the caller to schedule an appointment with a navigator.

Read the Law
You can read the Affordable Care Act by visiting the links provided. The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services also provides the full text of the ACA, divided into sections, and available here. The health care law, sometimes known as "Obamacare," was signed March 23, 2010.

Suspect a Health Care Scam?
This article from the Federal Trade Commission provides examples of the various scams appearing related to the Affordable Care Act and what to do if you encounter one of them.

Things to Think About When Choosing a Health Plan
There are points to consider when buying insurance through the Marketplace, such as all plans offer the same essential benefits, plans are divided into 4 categories, and you need to balance the monthly premium cost of each plan with the out-of-pocket expenses.

Veterans and the Affordable Care Act
If you are not enrolled in VA health care, you can apply at any time to have coverage under the standards of the health care law. The health care law does not change VA benefits or out-of-pocket costs. Use the VA Health Benefits Explorer to learn about the benefits you could receive as an enrolled Veteran. Veterans currently enrolled with VA health care programs have completely satisfied their requirement to have health coverage under the new health care law.

What if I'm Self Employed?
If you run an income-generating business with no employees, then you're considered self-employed (not an employer) and can get coverage through the Marketplace. You’re not considered an employer even if you hire independent contractors to do some work.

White House: Health Reform
Provides an overview of the Affordable Care Act, timeline on the health reform, news about the law, dispels myths, includes health care stories, and much more.

Why Should I Have Health Coverage?
No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. Health insurance covers these costs and protects you from very high expenses. This site explains the basics of health insurance and discusses areas of particular interest to a young adult.

The YouToons Get Ready for ObamaCare
2014 is coming–are you ready for Obamacare? Join the YouToons as they walk through the basic changes in the way Americans will get health coverage and what it will cost starting in 2014, when major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” go into effect. This short video is also available in Spanish

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