The Affordable Care Act 101: Experts Break down the Basics

Published 09/23 2013 06:48PM

Updated 09/23 2013 10:59PM

In a matter of days open enrollment begins for the long awaited Affordable Care Act.

The new system ensures most Americans will have access to health care coverage.

But many questions surround the plan, like how much it will cost and where to sign up?

ACA Highlights:

The Community Health Care Clinic in Normal serves several thousand patients each year, most of whom are either under insured or don't have health insurance at all.

"We have to be committed to filling in the gaps,” said executive director Angie McLaughlin.

But following the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, this could soon change.

According to the federal government, nearly 60 million people are without insurance.

So, the act works to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of care.

"If they are currently uninsured or currently buying healthcare insurance on the private market they will have the opportunity to look at new options through what's called the state exchange,” McLaughlin explained.

Registration begins October first, with the plan set to roll out January one.

Some states will run their own exchanges, while others states have chosen to let the federal government handle it.

"It completely revamps the American healthcare system,” said McLaughlin.

Consumers can visit

That’s where they’ll find their state's exchange and be able to view insurance options.

"It’s similar to a Hotwire or where you go in and you search all the different plans,” explained McLaughlin.  “Find a plan that's right for you and then you can enroll in that coverage."

Some people will qualify to be exempt from the insurance coverage, (for instance, if you're already under an employer provided plan.)

Others, who aren't insured and don't purchase the insurance through the exchange will have to pay a penalty.

"When you file your 2014 taxes you will be penalized and the IRS penalty for the first year is $95,” said McLaughlin.  “This is a very challenging overhaul of the American health care system and so I think there's going to continue to be bumps in the road."

With more people gaining access to insurance than ever before, experts say it is important consumers do their research to find the health plan that's right for them.

To calculate costs, or learn more follow the links below:

Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Featured Business