Obama Care

The ACA requires most U.S. citizens and legal residents to carry minimum essential coverage on themselves and their dependents.

The deadline: Anyone required to have health insurance (see below for exceptions) must generally be covered by Jan. 1, 2014. But the law also allows you to be uninsured for less that three months without facing a penalty, so technically you have until March 31 to get covered. To have insurance effective by then, consumers need to choose a policy by Feb. 15, in order to allow enough time for their enrollment to be processed for coverage to start on March 1 (most insurance coverage starts on the first of the month).

You have until March 31 to enroll in health insurance before you are subject to the law's tax penalty for not having coverage. For individuals, the penalty would start at $95, or up to 1 percent of income, whichever is greater, and rise to $695, or 2.5 percent of income, by 2016. For families this year the penalty is $285 or 1 percent of income. That will grow in 2016 to $2,085 or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater. The requirement to have coverage can be waived for several reasons, including financial hardship or religious beliefs.

Do my employer have to provide insurance?

No employer is required to provide insurance. But starting in 2015 -- a one-year delay from the previous date of 2014 -- businesses with 50 or more employees that don't provide health care coverage and have at least one full-time worker who receives subsidized coverage in the health insurance exchange will have to pay a fee of $2,000 per full-time employee. The firm's first 30 workers would be excluded from the fee.

However, firms with fewer than 50 people won't face any penalties.

In addition, if you own a small business, the health law offers a tax credit to help cover the cost. Employers with fewer than 25 full-time workers who earn an average yearly salary of $50,000 or less can get tax credits of up to 50 percent this year.

Citing technical difficulties, in late November the Obama administration announced a one-year delay in the debut of the online marketplace for small businesses, called the Small Business Health Option, or SHOP. Until the SHOP exchange is fully operational in November 2014, small business owners can apply for coverage through the mail, over the phone or with a broker or insurance agent.

To sign up for Health Insurance click the link below:

If you are under age 65 click the link below:

If you are age 65 or older click the link below: