Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, health insurance exchanges occurred on October 1, 2013, and insurance coverage will begin on January 1.
Nearly all individuals must purchase health insurance coverage or pay penalties beginning on January 1, 2014. Known as “minimum essential coverage,” this requirement is intended to reduce the number of uninsured individuals and encourage young, healthy individuals to purchase health insurance coverage.
Individual health insurance exchanges will begin providing coverage in 2014, as well. Private health insurers will offer standardized health insurance options in a regulated marketplace—either online, over the phone or in person. Individuals without employer health insurance who earn between 100–400% of the federal poverty level ($11,490–$45,960 in 2013) may have access to assistance to help defray health insurance costs in the form of tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies. The amount that an individual will contribute toward health insurance costs will be capped at a percentage of their income. (See Percentage Chart.)