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Take A Tour Of The Health Care Marketplace With WYSO Reporters, And Get A Cost Estimate

The Federal health care Marketplace is set to open for business Tuesday, Oct. 1, and open enrollment will last for six months. Most people who can’t get employer insurance will be required to sign up for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, or pay a fee. But there’s still a lot of confusion about what exactly this will mean for the uninsured — about 1.5 million people in Ohio.

To cut through some of that confusion, WYSO economics reporter Lewis Wallace breaks it down for WYSO community voices coordinator Sarah Buckingham.

The subsidies are technically tax credits, but they will be applied directly to the cost of health plans purchased on the Marketplace. In other words, you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to see the money; it’s automatically deducted from the cost.

Not everyone will pay the same amount in fees, or pay a fee at all under the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.  The fee for 2014 is $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever is higher. But there are a few exemptions to the individual mandate; for example, those who qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, or those who have religious reasons can be exempted. In states that don’t expand Medicaid—and the jury is still out on that issue in Ohio—people who make less than the federal poverty level will be exempt from the mandate, but they will also be unable to qualify for subsidies on the marketplace. Subsidies through the marketplace are available to individuals and families making one to four times the poverty level.

BELOW: Get an estimate on the actual costs for you from this calculator put together by NPR and the Kaiser Family Foundation. You can estimate costs in your county, or get an average of national costs for your age group and income. Real costs will vary as the market shifts. Once the marketplace opens, you can call (800) 318-2596 or go to healthcare.gov for a real, individual estimate.

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