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How can a consumer prepare for open enrollment?

There are a number of steps consumers can take to prepare. The federal website has suggestions for things consumers should be thinking about to prepare to enroll in a plan through the exchange.

Consumers who don't currently have health insurance coverage should find out if help might be available now through existing programs or because of changes already in effect from the ACA. For example, a parent's plan may cover young adults under age 26. The federal website has tips to find coverage. Consumers also can contact an insurance agent for help.

Consumers also can check with employers to find out whether they intend to offer health insurance coverage in the future or whether the coverage they currently offer meets the minimum level to meet the law's requirement and avoid paying a penalty. Insurance companies must tell policyholders if their plan doesn't meet the ACA requirements. Employers must inform their employees.

Finally, consumers can start gathering basic information about household income, such as their current tax return if they filed one, or other income information. Many people will qualify for tax credits or other financial help to make insurance affordable and consumers will need income information to determine their eligibility. Consumers can find more information about how to save money on coverage at healthcare.gov.

For updated information, visit the federal government's website at healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).

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