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Sep 30, 2013 7:58 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Affordable Care Act: What you need to know

TUCSON - Amidst the budget battle on Capitol Hill, President Obama's Affordable Care Act is poised for its big day. October 1st marks the opening of the new health insurance marketplace which will provide new options to 48 million uninsured Americans.

It's important to understand that this is not a deadline, rather, the first day that you can explore health insurance options in the new marketplace.

An easy way to start is to go online to Healthcare.gov to find out what your options are.

"It will be a wide range of choices. When you compare Arizona to other states that have been analyzed so far it looks like Arizona has the fourth lowest premiums of any state in the country," said Daniel Derksen, M.D., of the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona.

The exchange options are divided into four categories: bronze, silver, gold and platinum based on premiums and deductible for each plan.

Brandie Wood is a stay-at-home mom and she's especially grateful for the coverage she currently has under the state's Medicaid program AHCCCS.

"A year ago, we didn't have insurance. My son broke his arm and it was unimaginable -- they didn't even want to do the surgery because they wanted $3,000 down and it was a big deal," Wood said.

"It's definitely scary not to have insurance," she said.

Under the new law, Wood won't have to worry about much change in her coverage. However, in Arizona, the very number of people eligible for Medicaid is growing.

"The expansion of Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act adds about another 60,000 uninsured Arizonans," Derksen said.

If you are already insured by your employer, the law won't affect you. As for young adults, they can stay under their parent's plan until they're 26 years old.

If you can afford health insurance and don't sign up by December of 2014, you could face a fee of one percent of your total income or $95 per person. Those fees go up each year.

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