HEALTH

Insurance marketplace opens for business next Tuesday

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - As a self-employed hair stylist, Aleshia Warren doesn’t have the luxury of health insurance through her salon. But getting covered through the new Affordable Care Act exchanges still has her worried.

"Mainly what the cost is, and whether it would be helpful to me in my situation," she said. "I hadn't paid attention to the date coming up so closely, that we would have these options."

And Warren is not alone. When the insurance marketplace opens for business next Tuesday, consumers without coverage have approximately six months to find a plan that fits for them, or face paying a fine.

But there are questions as to where exactly they are supposed to begin, and what they need to know in order to choose a plan that works best for them.

When you log on to healthcare.gov, you will be directed to your own state’s marketplace exchange where you can virtually begin shopping.

"First of all, there will be differences in premiums -- big differences in premiums from plan to plan," explained Robert Krughoff with “Consumers' Checkbook," who says to keep it simple:

- DON'T GO BY PREMIUMS ALONE
- DON'T GO BY DEDUCTIBLE ALONE
- LOOK FOR SINGLE DOLLAR TOTAL COST FOR YOUR TYPE

"Look to see whether they have some summary, some single dollar amount, that is your best estimate of out-of-pocket cost for somebody like you," he added.

And when it comes to answering a series of questions to determine your eligibility, Krughoff says don’t rule out or box yourself into anything specific – like avoiding an HMO or refusing to use other doctors:

"Well, maybe you don't much want an HMO, but when you're faced with $2,000 or $3,000, you won't even know that if you answer the question up front, 'No, I won't consider an HMO."

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