We've done a lot at WFMY News 2 to try to help answer your questions about the Affordable Care Act, but it can still be very confusing. You might be wondering: how do I sign up for health insurance or how much more will I have to pay for it?

Here to help answer your questions is Latishia Vincent with Piedmont Health Services. Latishia, along with her employer and two churches are hosting a free forum to help you sign up for health insurance.

It's this Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Wayman Chapel AME. They're located at 592 North Main Street in Graham. The first hour will be about health care information, then you can get personalized assistance to sign up. There are currently 18 spots still available. You have to set up an appointment first by calling 919-619-5457 by Wednesday.

Latishia is a Certified Application Counselor provided this information regarding the Affordable Care Act:

"What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

The Marketplace, sometimes known as the health insurance "exchange," is a new way to find health coverage. When you use the Health Insurance Marketplace, you will fill out an application and see all of the health plans available in your area. You will also find out if you can get lower costs on monthly premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs. The Marketplace will also let you know if you qualify for free or low-cost coverage available through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Who needs to apply?

Everyone who does not have health insurance is encouraged to apply. If you currently have health insurance through your employer, Medicaid, Medicare, or coverage through Veterans Administration, you do NOT need to apply for health insurance through the Marketplace. If you currently have insurance through a private provider, please make sure that it provides the "essential benefits" (mentioned above). "Essential benefits" are required under the Affordable Care Act.

How do I sign up for insurance?

To get insurance through the marketplace exchange, you may obtain it in several ways. There are 4 ways to enroll:

1. On-line: www.healthcare.gov

2. Over the phone: 1-800-315-2596 or TTY: 1-855-889-4325

3. In-person with an assister: Certified Application Counselors [CACs] or Navigators

4. Paper application

If you have questions or need assistance, you may call the certified application counselors (CACs) or Navigators at Caswell Family Medical Center, Piedmont Health's Charles Drew, Prospect Hill, and Scott Community Health Center. It's a free service to be helped by the certified counselors. Or attend an upcoming outreach event in the area.

When do I need to enroll into the health insurance marketplace? When will my new Health Insurance become effective?

During this Open Enrollment period to enroll in a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, a person must complete enrollment by March 31, 2014. Individuals who are not enrolled by March 31, 2014 will be subject to a tax penalty from the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) when you file your 2014 federal tax return. The penalty for the year 2014 is a fixed price of $95 per adult or 1%(whichever is higher) of your household income. For individual children the penalty is $47.50 each. The penalty is scheduled to increase each year

Enrollment Dates Effective Date of Coverage

Jan 16, 2014 - Feb 15, 2014 March 1, 2014

Feb 16, 2014 - March 15, 2014 April 1, 2014

March 16, 2014 - March 31, 2014 May 1, 2014

Next year's open enrollment

November 15, 2014: Proposed date for 2015 open enrollment to start

January 15, 2015: Proposed date for 2015 open enrollment to end

To buy insurance outside of open enrollment, you must qualify for a special enrollment period due to a qualifying life events such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of a job.

Is the Health Insurance Free?

Technically, the health insurance is not free. In most cases, people may be eligible for a new way to get lower costs on your monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs for private insurance. A Certified Application Counselor (CAC) or Navigator may help you determine these cost options for you. There are on-line tools if you prefer to do this yourself or you may call for additional assistance.

CACs cannot determine eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP. If the Marketplace does not determine eligibility, consumers can forward their application or go to an eligibility worker at a Medicaid office."

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