The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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September 25, 2013

"Is my spouse covered?" and other questions about the new health-care law

By Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey

Special To The Washington Post

How is the health-care law going to affect you as new state insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, open Oct. 1? Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey, senior correspondents at Kaiser Health News, recently answered online questions from Washington Post readers about this. Here is an excerpt:

Q: Exactly what is a state exchange?

A: It is an online marketplace where you can look at various insurance plans to determine what's covered and how much in premiums and co-payments you'll pay each month. You'll also be able to find out if you qualify for financial assistance or for the law's Medicaid expansion.

Q: How will the exchanges affect people on Medicare?

A: Medicare is not part of the health insurance exchanges. If you have Medicare, you don't have to do anything. (The exchanges also have nothing to do with Medicare supplemental policies.)

Q: Under my job, I am covered but my spouse is not. What am I to do?

A: It sounds like your employer insurance does not allow coverage for spouses. If that's the case, your spouse could go to the exchange to look for a plan and possibly qualify for a subsidy.

Q: I am currently uninsured; what is the first thing I need to do come Oct. 1?

A: Go to www.healthcare.gov to find out more about the plans available in your area. If you are in a state running its own marketplace, that Web site will direct you to your state's Web site.

You don't have to act right on Oct. 1. You have some time to compare the policies available, fill out your enrollment information and learn if you qualify for a subsidy. Coverage in the new policies does not begin until Jan. 1, 2014. If you want coverage to begin then, you should enroll by mid-December. Open enrollment will close at the end of March.

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