Affordable Care Act Sign Up Date Approaches - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Affordable Care Act Sign Up Date Approaches

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Beginning October 1, people across the United States can start signing up for the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.

One major principal of the act is that everybody will have health insurance and if not they will be charged a penalty.

"They'll be able to choose a number of different policies at a number of different coverage levels," said Mike Fierberg, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Nearly all of them will qualify for these tax credits that will help the cost of the policy."

People can sign up for health insurance plans online and in exchange they will receive a tax credit.

"They will get a tax subsidy to help lower the cost of the insurance. It will be paid immediately in the form of a tax credit paid to the insurance company," said Fierberg.

"The website will tell you the premium and then you get to calculate in a separate part," said Christiana Stoddard, Montana State University Professor of Economics. "The tax credit is different in different states, but how much do you have to pay based on your income."

Stoddard said currently in Montana there are about 200,000 people who are not insured and about another 50,000 who buy insurance directly from an insurance company.

With the Affordable Care Act, more people will be insured, which will hopefully drop the cost of premiums.

"The hope is that if enough healthy people sign up, it won't just be really sick people that are trying to buy insurance directly paying really high premiums," said Stoddard. "If we have a large group of people signing up, then premiums will drop for everyone that is on the exchange."

Stodddard predicts that a person buying insurance individually will pay less now then they have in the past, but there are concerns with this new system.

"By having all of those new people who now have insurance, will they use health care services a lot more and will that increase services? As a result will everybody pay high premiums then they would of without this plan," said Stoddard.

Individuals have until March 31 to sign up for an insurance plan without being fined.

The employer mandate, which requires employers to provide insurance to their employers will go into effect in January of 2015.

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