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ACA basic info to get started

SPRINGFIELD -- In two days, sign ups will begin for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
SPRINGFIELD -- In two days, sign ups will begin for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels explains what you need to know to get started.

Come October 1, anyone without health insurance will be able to start signing up for plans. With such a big change on the horizon, a lot of people have a lot of questions.

That's where Raymond McCrary comes in. He's an in-person counselor. There are hundreds around the state who are specially trained just for this.

"You can come in and we can help you. We can give you more information on which is the best insurance plan for you."

So, let's start with the basics. Who needs to sign up?

"People that's uninsured that doesn't have any insurance can get enrolled."

If you already have insurance, or work full-time, you do not need to sign up. Your employer will do it for you. Same goes for people who are already covered under Medicare or Medicaid. You don't need to worry about this either.

But, for everyone else, "You're going to have to bring some information to us. You should bring, like, your social security number, W2's, driver's license," and information for any other family members who need coverage.

You'll plug it all into the website and it will tell you which of dozens of plans you qualify for. McCrary describes it kind of like booking a hotel on priceline.com where you can compare what's included and how much it costs.

Then, you choose if you want bronze, silver, gold or platinum coverage. Bronze costs the least each month, but when you go to the doctor, you'll pay a higher portion. Platinum has the highest monthly cost, but covers more of the bill when you do have to go in.

"We can't tell them which plan to pick, but we can just describe each plan to help them make the right decision for them and their family."

You can start signing up Tuesday, October 1. You must enroll by March 31, 2014. Coverage will start January 1, 2014.

If you choose not to buy health insurance in the marketplace, you can be fined. The first year it will be $95 and it will increase each year you're not covered.

There are some exceptions though. If you really can't afford insurance and can't get it anywhere else, the government can waive the fee.
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