In a report by NPR, some of the basic questions about the Affordable Care Act are answered. The ACA will begin on Jan. 1, 2014, with people able to sign up for the program on Oct. 1. NPR readers and listeners sent in questions they had about the Act, which NPR answered. More questions can be sent in to:

Here’s the basic breakdown of those answers:

• People in the individual insurance market can participate in the ACA. If you don’t have health insurance from an employer, you’re self-employed, or you don’t qualify for Medicare benefits and you don’t have a job, you can buy health insurance through the exchange.

• People can get some type of assistance with their premiums if they are in the $11,490 – $45,690 income range. If you have to spend more than 8% of your income on health insurance, you don’t have to buy it, and you won’t be paying a penalty. There are also other exemptions from the rule if you can’t afford the coverage.

• Premiums seem to be averaging between $200 – $400 for the ‘silver plan’.
• Those with employer coverage and government coverage will not have to purchase additional coverage.

• Those who have or are offered coverage through an employer aren’t allowed to participate in the exchange. If they do go to the exchange, they won’t receive any assistance with their premiums. However, there are exceptions to mandated employer coverage.

• Preexisting conditions will not cause you to have a higher premium.

• Certain religious groups, like the Amish and Mennonite sects, don’t pay into Social Security. Because of this, they will be exempt from mandated coverage.

• Anyone who lives outside the US for at least 330 days in a year will be exempted from the requirement to have coverage.

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