Insurance marketplace set to open Tuesday

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There are so many shopping websites, but none like the one whose virtual doors open Tuesday at healthcare.gov. It's a government-run marketplace offering health insurance from private insurers. It's an opportunity for millions of uninsured Americans to get coverage.

"Yes, I do want health insurance and I think it's great it's a lot more accessible," said John Vicol who is uninsured.

Healthcare.gov is also for those who have individual coverage now and just want to see if they can get a better deal. In the Kansas City area, it's expected you'll see plans from just two insurers -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Coventry. Each will have multiple plans. The lower the premiums, the more you'll have to pay out of pocket for care. On the website, you'll be able to see if you qualify for a tax credit to help pay for the insurance.

"Whether it's affordable. That's the number one key there," said Vicol.

As for the rest of us?

"It's important to remember that for 85 percent of Americans, this is a non-issue. We have coverage through our workplace, through a private carrier, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, we already have coverage," said Stephene Moore, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

By law, though, all employers must send employees a notice about the marketplace. It states that if you have an offer of health coverage from your employer that meets certain standards, you will not be eligible for a tax credit through the marketplace. In other words, stick with what you have.

Coverage from marketplace plans begins January 1. You'll neeed to pick a plan by December 15, 2013 if you want your coverage to start then. Enrollment continues through March 31, 2014.

Most Americans will be required to have insurance next year. Exceptions include those who would have qualified for Medicaid in Missouri and Kansas if those states had expanded that program. The penalty if you don't get coverage in 2014 is $95 or one percent of your income --whichever is higher.

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