By the Health Care and You Coalition

In 2014, health care will become more accessible for millions of Americans. If you’re already covered—through your employer, a plan you purchased on the individual market, or a public program such as Medicaid or Medicare—then your insurance will stay the same. But if you need health insurance, your state’s Health Insurance Exchange will be the place to go.

You might have heard of these “Exchanges.” Every state is required to create their own or build a multi-state exchange by 2014. The states that aren’t able to get an Exchange up and running by then will get help from the federal government to do so. What will the Exchange look like? States are in the process of making many of those decisions right now, but there are a few things that all exchanges will have in common.

Exchanges will be a  one stop marketplace where you can search online to compare and select the health plan that best fits the needs of you and your family. Small business owners will also be able to shop for health insurance for their employees.

All health plans on the Exchange are required to offer a set of essential health benefits like doctor’s visits, prescriptions and preventive care. And you’ll be able to get coverage regardless of your pre-existing conditions or medical history. Depending on your income, you may even receive a tax credit or subsidy to help you pay for your coverage.

States will also offer options to compare plans and  purchase health coverage  in-person or over the phone for those who might need or want help. Similar to the website, your answers to a series of questions will allow you to be connected to the public or private health plan that‘s right for you.

To get the latest information on the health care law and to track state-by-state developments on the Health Insurance Exchange and other news, continue to visit HealthCareandYou.org

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