Under the federal Affordable Care Act, most Americans will be required to have health insurance on January 1, 2014, or pay a penalty to the federal government. Beginning October 1, 2013, uninsured individuals and families (and others) will be able to go to the Health Insurance Marketplace to shop for insurance coverage that meets their needs and fits their budgets.
The Marketplace is an online, internet-based shopping center where consumers can go to compare insurance plans, benefits, and premium costs to purchase the coverage of their choice and to determine if they qualify for federal subsidies to lower their insurance costs. (Those without access to the internet can apply by toll-free telephone.)
The Marketplace opens on October 1, 2013, and enrollment for insurance coverage that begins on January 1, 2014 must be completed by December 15. Coverage purchased after December 15 will not go into effect until February 1. The enrollment period ends on March 1, 2014.