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10 Things You Should Know About the Health Exchange

Is all this health care news confusing you? Here are 10 things you should know about Covered California.

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    1. The government shutdown has no effect on the launch of Covered California, California's insurance exchange.

    Photo: Screenshot CoveredCa.com
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    2. Covered California may not affect you. If you already have health insurance, great, nothing changes for you. Covered California is for people who are uninsured or self-insured. Individuals who are part of programs such as Medicare, the CA or Medi-Cal don’t have to do anything.
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    3. Some parts of the Affordable Care Act are already in effect. For example, insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Parents can also keep their children on their coverage plans until they are 26.
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    4. It's not as confusing as it seems. It's like shopping online! Just go to coveredca.com and hit the "Shop Now" button. Then hit "Get Started." It walks you through the whole process allowing you to compare different plans and select the one that fits your needs and budget best.

    Photo: Screenshot CoveredCa.com
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    5. You don't have to sign up today. You have until Dec. 15, 2013 to sign up through the exchange if you want coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. In fact, you might see this screen if you do. You have more than two months to choose the right plan for you. Enrollment will continue through March 31.

    Photo: Screenshot CoveredCa.com
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    6. Covered California is really designed to get health coverage for those who are uninsured. But, all California residents are free to buy insurance through the exchange. Only those with low or moderate incomes will receive tax credits. Most people who are insured through their workplace are not eligible to get those credits.
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    7. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, all health coverage plans will be required to cover preventive and emergency care, hospitalization, prescriptions and more.
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    8. If you don’t get coverage by March 31, 2014, you’ll be subject to a $95 penalty or 1 percent of your income, whichever is more. The fee will continue to increase.
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    9. You don't have to get health coverage if the lowest-priced coverage is more than 8 percent of your household's adjusted income. You’re exempt if your income is below the threshold for filing taxes (which is $9,750 for a single person and $27,100 for a married couple with two children.) There are other cases of exemption www.healthcare.gov/exemptions.
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    10.Watch out for scams! There are phony websites and prank callers out there trying to make an easy buck. There is only one website coveredca.com and the phone number is 800-300-1506.