Coverage under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare,” begins in 2014 but you must sign up by December 15, 2013 if you want coverage to begin January 1, 2014.
Residents of Iowa and Illinois can find their state’s official exchange at healthcare.gov.
Illinois residents can also enroll online through http://getcoveredillinois.gov/.
You must then set up an account and provide information, such as your name, address, age, number of people in your family, household income, employer and whether you have access to insurance elsewhere. You’ll also have to say whether you are a smoker, since insurance carriers can charge tobacco users more.
You can also apply for a federal subsidy, which may require you to provide pay stubs and certain tax forms if the income you enter doesn’t match Internal Revenue Service records. Enrollees should learn instantly whether they qualify for the subsidy, which they can apply to insurance coverage right away. You’ll also find out whether you are eligible for Medicaid, and whether you can enroll your children in the government health program for kids, known as CHIP.
You can get in-person enrollment help from a variety of groups, mostly non-profits or health centers funded by the federal government. Experts, including “navigators” and certified application counselors, will be on hand to answer questions and walk people through the application process.
To find this assistance, go to localhelp.healthcare.gov on the federal portal and type in your zip code. You can also go to getcoveredamerica.org or text “covered” to 877877 to get a list from Enroll America, a non-profit aimed at boosting participation in Obamacare.