By Claudio Iván Remeseira | Posted on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, at 10:45 a.m.
October 1st is Launch Day for the health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, popularly know as Obamacare. Paradoxically, this is also Day One of the shutdown of the federal government prompted by an ill-fated attempt by House Republicans first to defund the law, and lastly to put its start off for one year. [Read more at The Atlantic]
The government has done a pretty lame job in informing the public about this law--not only about the benefits it will likely bring to the millions who are uninsured, but about how it works and what you need to know to navigate it effectively. They recently put up this website, which informs you about the new exchanges, but you'd still wonder what you actually need to do. At this point, the answer is: basically nothing. As Slate's Matt Yglesias explains:
The launch of the marketplaces is a big deal, but it's not that big a deal. Many of us who won't be using the marketplaces as long as we stay in our current jobs may have occasion to use them in future years and may feel good knowing that if something changes in our work situation that won't leave us uninsured or uninsurable. But in practice only a relatively small slice of the population will be using these programs in the launch year.
But if you're currently uninsured or buy insurance on the individual market, then what happens is that sometimes over the next sixth months you need to check out the marketplace for your state and the available plans. That's the "open enrollment period."