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Provisions Of Affordable Care Act Going Live

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MISSOULA -

Unless the House Republicans get their way, the Affordable Care act goes live Tuesday. New online exchanges will allow you to buy policies in all 50 states, including here in Montana, even if you have pre-existing medical conditions. This means folks among the almost 48 million without healthcare can start shopping for a plan that suits their needs on Tuesday.

"The Affordable Care Act is here to stay," President Barack Obama said.

"Obamacare is a train wreck," said Texas' Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

Whether you're for it or against it, provisions of the controversial Affordable Care Act are rolling out.

"Tuesday people can begin enrolling for the new healthcare market places," said State Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen.

Lindeen is on a six-day tour in the Treasure State, with the goal of explaining what Montanans need to know about these health insurance exchanges.

"We're giving them the facts, because people are confused about what's real and what isn't," Lindeen said.

The plans are laid out like this: "bronze" is basic, "silver" is mid-range, and "gold" and "platinum" are high-end plans. Lindeen said if you already have sufficient health insurance, or have Medicare, this doesn't affect you.

"But everyone is eligible to look at coverage and purchase coverage," Lindeen said.

The Obama Administration puts health coverage at roughly $100 or less a month if you qualify for tax breaks and subsidies because of income.

"The average Montana family has income of $45,000, that's about 80% of Montanans, so they would be available for some type of tax credit," Lindeen said.

She said households with income 100% to 400% of the poverty level may be eligible for tax credits to make it more affordable.

"We believe a lot of families in Montana are going to see good affordable coverage," Lindeen said.

You have until December 14 to choose if you want your new health coverage to start January 1. On March 31, 2014, open enrollment ends and the penalties begin.

You can start shopping for a plan at HealthCare.gov. If you don't have health insurance by the end of March, you could be slapped with a fine.

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