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A guide to the coming healthcare exchange

By Kyle Benjamin, kbenjamin@wcyb.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:55:04 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 27 2013 10:56:30 AM CDT

Unless something changes over the weekend, a big provision of the Affordable Care Act opens Tuesday, October 1.

BRISTOL, Va. -

Unless something changes over the weekend, a big provision of the Affordable Care Act opens Tuesday, October 1.

"If currently you do not have insurance you need to go to the marketplace to see what is available to you and see what tax credit you can get so you can afford insurance," said Elliott Moore, Assistant Vice President for Community and Government Relations for Mountain States Health Alliance.

The healthcare exchange is an online marketplace where you can shop for, and compare coverage. Think Orbitz, but for health insurance instead of vacations. "It's not going to be complicated. It's going to be options," said Moore.

Everyone will have at least two choices. Some people may have up to five. But the number of insurance options is dependent on age, employment, tax bracket, and family size.

There are also four tiers -- Bronze, two levels of Silver, and Gold. Each level is more expensive than the last, but it will also have more benefits. "If you want to get more coverage, you pay more. If you opt for the lower one, you get less coverage, but at least you have insurance to protect you and your family," said Moore.

Moore adds that this is the most important aspect of the Affordable Care Act -- providing insurance for people who didn't have access before.

The marketplace will help make your out-of-pocket costs easier to understand and budget for. "Once you put in your information, there's a calculation that will tell you how much its going to cost you out of pocket and then the premium share of the government will go directly to the insurer you choose," said Moore. "You pay the difference."

The enrollment period starts October 1. Coverage can begin as soon as January 1.

Click here to be taken to the healthcare exchange at healthcare.gov.