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Key part of the Affordable Care Act begins
(NEWSCHANNEL 3) While the federal government may be shut down, a key part of the Affordable Care Act still began on Tuesday.
Enrollment is now open at the health insurance marketplace for those that are without insurance or paying for insurance out of pocket.
Come January 1st, 2014 all Americans must be insured or pay a fine.
Most people wont have to do anything at all, if you have health insurance through your employer or on Medicaid or Medicare, youre covered. However, if you are uninsured, have been denied coverage in the past or just want to shop around for new options, you should log on to the marketplace.
Its the day that Paula Triplett has been waiting for, excited to log on to Healthcare.gov.
Im very excited about all of this happening, said Triplett, for me what this means is a chance to exhale.
Forced to quit her job as a college professor in 2007 when her kidneys failed, Triplett is now on the transplant list and has been paying more than $900 out of pocket a month for health insurance.
I am in dialysis three days a week for five hours, said Triplett.
For Triplett, and millions of others without insurance, that will all change come 2014.
Right now, everyone is eligible, said Erin Knott, Michigan State Director of Enroll America. Right now its targeted at the 1.2 million Michiganders that dont have insurance, but if youre underinsured or want additional coverage anyone can look at the marketplace.
80 percent of Americans wont see any changes, including those on Medicare and Medicaid, but those who dont have insurance will be required to by January 1st.
If they are not insured and do not get insurance they are subject to penalties, said Linda Vail of the Kalamazoo County Health Department.
Those without insurance will pay one percent of their income, up to $95 if you dont qualify for exemptions.
With time before the deadline, experts say now is the time to shop for options and to ask questions.
When people come in that dont have insurance, they can get some assistance going through the process and enrolling, said Vail.
Which is what Triplett is doing, and looking forward to saving upwards of $700 a month.
For me, it allows me to lead at least a little bit more of a normal life, said Triplett, even though I am plugged into a machine every day.
Because there have been glitches in the online system, those trying to access the marketplace may be getting error messages. Enrollment is open until mid-March, with insurance plans starting on January 1st.
Those who remain confused about any part of the process can contact health care navigators in West Michigan who are trained to answer your questions about enrollment. You can find more information by clicking here.