LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - October 1, 2013 is a day that could affect all Americans in some way. It's when Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins (ACA).
That means that people without health insurance - including about 500,000 Arkansans - can shop for health insurance plans. Those people include Marcus Morrow and Ken Ashlin.
Morrow is a single father of three who has no health insurance.
"I really wouldn't know what to," he says in regards to signing up for health coverage. "I haven't gotten into it too far. I've just been so busy with everything else, but it's something I need to look into."
Ashlin is a senior broadcast journalism student at the University of Central Arkansas. Due to part of the new ACA law which has already taken effect, he has been on his parents' health insurance. But, in three months he turns 26, and he will be responsible for getting his own plan.
"I never really thought much about it," he admits. "I've always been under my parents' insurance and it was never a big deal."
"For the first time we'll have an opportunity to have almost every patient be a paying patient and that will help stabilize our healthcare system," said Dr. Joe Thompson, Arkansas' Surgeon General.
In order to prepare for the changes, the Arkansas Insurance Department began an extensive TV and online marketing campaign, titled "All In."
"Part of why the affordable care act will work is that we have healthy and unhealthy included in it. Everybody is in." expressed Cindy Crone with the Arkansas Insurance Dept.
Crone also said for this law to work effectively, it needs young participants.
"(We need) young, healthy men and women coming in to help spread that risk and help to keep the cost down for everyone," Crone said. The risk that Crone refers to is the risk of getting sick or needing medical attention. Young people could help offset the cost that older or ill people face.
While the ACA is the topic of conversation and political debates now, come January it will be a requirement. On January 1, 2014, every American is required to have health insurance or they will be penalized.
Those who do not have coverage must pay a fine to the Internal Revenue Service; that fine increases with time if no coverage is selected. Those who don't purchase insurance will be fined $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, and $695 in 2016.
The number of "uninsured" Arkansans account for about 25 percent of the state, which leaves many people wondering 'What about the majority of Arkansans who are already covered by health insurance?"
Their insurance stays the same and they do not need to change anything by October 1.
For additional health insurance links and information, click here: http://on.kthv.com/15D6RR8