1Buying private Health coverage will never be the same, as of October 1 - opening day for enrolling in the new state "health exchanges "created under the Affordable Care Act.

These markets will offer individuals and their families a choice of private Health plans resembling those under employer-provided insurance. The government will subsidize premiums for many middle-class households, while low-income people will be referred to safety-net programs.

You'll be able to select your coverage online, through telephone call centers staffed by counselors, or (in many communities) from storefront operations or kiosks in malls.

You'll no longer have to worry about getting turned down or charged more due to a medical problem. If you're a woman, you can't be charged more because of gender. The middle aged and people nearing retirement can be charged no more than 300% of what younger customers pay, compared with the 600-700% surcharge permitted today.

If all this sounds too good to be true, remember that nothing in life is free - and change isn't easy. When coverage through the exchanges takes effect on January 1, 2014, the law will require almost everyone to have Health insurance or pay a fine (a mandate designed to get everybody paying into the insurance pool).

Some people buying coverage through the exchanges will experience sticker shock.

Smokers will face a financial penalty. Younger, well-to-do people who haven't seen the need for Health insurance might not be eligible for income-based assistance. Even those who receive these subsidies will find that coverage doesn't come cheap. Although their monthly premiums will be less than the mortgage or rent, they might be more than payments on a car loan. On the other hand, their coverage will be more robust than under most individual plans.

Our agency's specialists would be happy to help you select the Health plan that's best for you and your family - just give us a call.
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