Health Team

Tutorial: Explaining the Affordable Care Act

Posted December 3, 2013
Updated February 26, 2014

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— Under the Affordable Care Act, most people in the U.S. must have health insurance in 2014 or pay a tax penalty. Anyone who signs up for coverage by March 31 won't have to pay the penalty.

The federal government created an online marketplace, called an exchange, at to help people enroll, offering coverage options to people who don't have health insurance, who have been denied coverage or who just want to see if there's a better plan for them.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas offer plans through the exchange in North Carolina. The plans come in five levels – bronze, silver, gold, platinum and catastrophic – that offer a range of premiums, deductibles, co-pays and coverage.

Anyone who purchases coverage through the exchange cannot be denied coverage, charged more because of a pre-existing condition or pay a higher rate because of their gender.

By filling out an application on, you can find out if you qualify for a federal tax credit to help offset some of your monthly premiums or if you receive coverage under Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.

People can also file a paper application or call 800-318-2596 to apply by phone. also includes a list of trained "navigators" in cities nationwide who can help guide people through the application process.


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