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Want a Head Start on Getting New Health Insurance?

Where to begin? Come Oct. 1, when the online health insurance marketplaces open for business, that will be the challenge for many people who want to get coverage under the health care law.


To get ready for the launch, they can visit the government's newly revamped website. Or they can call the 24-hour call center, which opened June 24. It's supposed to be able to handle enrollment questions in 150 languages.

The website asks a few simple questions, such as what coverage you have now, where you live and your age range. The site offers up a checklist of information you will need to have handy when the application process opens. You can also get questions answered through a live online chat. And you can sign up to get email alerts with more information.

Here's what three imaginary consumers would find out:

  • You're 63 and live in California. You and your husband, who's already on Medicare, have a combined income of $40,000. will redirect you to the Covered California state site. There you can find out how much aid you'll qualify for and that your estimated monthly premium is $276.
  • You're a well-paid, 50-something attorney in Virginia, but you're about to lose your job. Coverage will be available, you'll find out, but no subsidies.
  • You own a small business in New Jersey. You can learn about four levels of plans that will be offered through the Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP).


Over the summer, the Department of Health and Human Services will add new features so that by the time marketplace enrollments begin, you'll be able to set up accounts, complete an insurance online application and shop for coverage. A Spanish version,, is also being updated.


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