Your Affordable Care Act Questions Answered - WSPA.com

Your Affordable Care Act Questions Answered

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If you don't have insurance, you can now sign up under the Affordable Care Act. If you don't have insurance, you can now sign up under the Affordable Care Act.

Millions of Americans without health insurance can now shop around for a plan.

Part of the federal health care overhaul kicked in Tuesday. If you don't have insurance, you can now sign up under the Affordable Care Act.

One in five people in South Carolina do not have health insurance.

Lessie Irby’s niece falls in that category. She took advantage of open enrollment Tuesday.

“She wants some insurance. And that's the only way she can get some health insurance that she doesn't have to pay an arm and a leg," said Irby, who lives in Spartanburg.

Her niece has been without insurance since she lost her job five years ago.

“When you go to the emergency room now, they'll see you one or two times. But if you don't have health insurance, they're telling you, 'No, we're not going to be able to see you like that.' So this was a good plan for her,” said Irby.

CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta was in downtown Greenville Tuesday answering questions about the changing health insurance landscape.

“In nearly 50 years, this is the biggest development with regard to health care and the implementation of health care in our country," said Gupta.

Although you may have heard what this means for people like Irby's niece who don't have insurance, there are also some changes for those covered.

Starting in 2014, lifetime caps on care become a thing of the past and insurance companies can no longer discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.

Chet Skwara has a pre-existing condition and already has health insurance, but he wants to learn more about whether choosing marketplace insurance could be right for him.

“What are the four levels -- I guess the bronze, silver, gold and platinum -- what do they cover?" said Skwara, who lives in Greenville.

The four levels of coverage are based on how you and your plan share costs of care. Premiums are higher for plans that pay more of your out-of-pocket costs when you go to the doctor or pick up a prescription.

So if you don't go to the doctor a lot, you may want to go for a bronze or silver plan -- but know that if an unexpected health problem comes up, you’ll pay more out-of-pocket.

Gupta said the reality is if you're happy with the insurance you have now, the Affordable Care Act won't impact you today.

“It's more about the people who don't have it, haven't been able to get it because they're sick, because they're poor, whatever it may be," said Gupta.

If you do not have coverage in 2014, you will have to pay a penalty. That penalty increases every year. There are some people who qualify for an exemption to that fee, like if you're uninsured for less than three months in that year.

You have until Dec. 15 to sign up through open enrollment if you want coverage starting Jan. 1.

If you're not already covered, you have until March 31 to sign up. That's when open enrollment ends.

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