On October 1, an online marketplace will open for health insurance. It is all part of the first phase of the Affordable Care Act. New rules for medicaid are also included. YNN's Jon Dougherty has more on the law, and what you need to know.
NATIONWIDE -- On October 1, 2013 another portion of the Affordable Care Act will go into effect. Health officials are calling it a key date in the new law that's said to make healthcare more affordable and accessible.
On October 1, the Marketplace will open. According to health officials, it's a one stop shop for health insurance.
"People can do their homework, see what's out there, and see what they're eligible for," said Erie County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.
In the Marketplace, people and small business owners can determine what coverage option is best for them. There will be several tiers of coverage.
"The Affordable Care Act is going to provide various levels of coverage. A bronze program, a silver program, a gold program, and a platinum program," said Erie County Social Services Asst. Commissioner Frank DeCarlo. "In each one of those, the individuals seeking or shopping in the marketplace will have the opportunity to select from those."
It is described as an open enrollment. It will be for everyone, especially for those who do not have insurance right now, are underinsured, or have a job that doesn't offer insurance options. On January 1, 2013 most Americans will be required to have insurance or pay a penalty.
"It's a two pronged approach," Dr. Burstein said. "One is expanding access to health insurance for all U.S. citizens and the other is expanding the availability of primary care services and preventative care."
The marketplace will also include a calculator to see if you're eligible for any subsidies or tax breaks, or qualify for medicaid.
"We're going to be able to assist individuals who have been struggling," DeCarlo said. "Buffalo is the third poorest city in the country. We have a hard working population but we're in need services."
Also on January 1, 2014, health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny or charge customers more for preexisting conditions, or put a lifetime cap on the dollar amount of coverage you can receive. Health officials are ready and available to answer questions.