After Republican lawmakers insisted on tying defunding, delaying, and partially repealing Obamacare to a bill that would fund the government on Monday night, the federal government shut down for the first time in 17 years. But since funding for Obamacare’s major provisions has already been appropriated, the shutdown has little effect on the health law going forward. And on Tuesday morning, its insurance marketplaces finally launched:
Uninsured Americans who want to sign up for coverage under the law can visit Healthcare.gov. If you live in one of the 26 states where the federal government will be operating the marketplace, you can visit the individual policy sign up page, select your state, and then apply for coverage after signing up for an account. Healthcare.gov will also direct Americans living in states that are operating their own marketplace to the appropriate website.
Last week, the federal government released an analysis of 36 states’ marketplaces that found uninsured consumers will have an average of 53 different plans to choose from, and that one in four insurance companies offering insurance through the marketplaces are doing so for the first time. Health care premiums for these plans are expected to cost less than expected for 95 percent of Americans, especially after factoring in federal tax subsidies.
Some states are still working out technical glitches to make sure that consumers have the most accurate information regarding their plan options and eligibility for federal subsidies to help them buy insurance. But federal officials have stressed that Americans can still sign up for coverage with a paper application and with the help of so-called “navigators” whose jobs involve helping the uninsured enroll into a plan.
Want to clear up some things about Obamacare before signing up? Check out ThinkProgress’ guide to the 20 questions you have about the health law that you may have been too afraid to ask.