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The most well-known provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” requires Americans to have “minimum essential health insurance” for themselves, spouses and dependents starting on January 1, 2014. The legislation also included a new tax credit and penalty related to the health care reform.

If you already have health insurance through an employer or government-sponsored program like Medicare or Medicaid, or you purchase insurance on your own, you likely have minimum essential coverage and don't need to take any action.

If you don't have insurance, the ACA requires that you obtain coverage or pay a tax penalty (unless you're exempt).

If your employer does not offer insurance, you can obtain coverage through your state's marketplace (also called an exchange) during open enrollment, or purchase on your own through a private exchange or directly from an insurance company.

You may qualify to enroll in marketplace coverage outside of open enrollment periods if you experience a life event like having a baby, getting married or losing other coverage.

Marketplaces offer four levels of coverage defined by the percentage of the plan paid for by the insurance company:

  • Bronze plans cover 60% of covered healthcare expenses
  • Silver cover 70%
  • Gold cover 80%
  • Platinum cover 90%

If you purchase coverage through a marketplace, you may be eligible for the advanced premium tax credit to help reduce the cost of your monthly premiums. Find out how much you can save on health insurance now.

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