A Tour of the Affordable Care Act Website

To learn more about new healthcare options with the Affordable Care Act, visit www.healthcare.gov.

In less than a month, people in South Florida who need health insurance can start participating in the country's first ever government sanctioned insurance program designed for all Americans.

Many components of the Affordable Care Act will be implemented on Oct. 1, but the program's website is already up and running.

The website, www.healthcare.gov, has all kinds of information about the new system and how it applies to those who already have health insurance.

The site features animated videos offering an explanation of the new law, with an emphasis on the "Health Insurance Marketplace." The Marketplace will allow people to fill out an application to see all the health plans available in the applicant's area. Another tool will show comparisons on prices, benefits and premiums between different plans.

Each state, including Florida, already has a marketplace set up.

The HMO, short for health maintenance organization, could require patients to use providers inside their network. In order to see a specialist, some may need a referral from a primary care doctor.

The preferred provider organization, also called PPO, allows patients to choose a doctor outside the network, but they will have to pay more compared to the HMO.

Another plan is the high-deductible health plan, HDHP, which carries a deductible of more than one thousand dollars, but the cost of the plan itself is inexpensive.

Some families will qualify for lower costs of monthly premiums. Generally, the lower the household income is, the higher the savings will be.

Small business owners can also explore their options on the website.

The new law requires that people who can afford health insurance must carry it or pay a penalty, with the fine starting at $47 for an uninsured child, $95 for a single adult and $285 for a family.

While it is known how much the fees will be in Florida, it is still unknown how much it will cost to carry a policy. That information will become available on Oct. 1.

A live chat tool on the website will connect anyone in need of help with a real person that can answer questions.

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