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Today marks the official start of the Affordable Care Act. And while you’re probably aware of how much Republicans despise the new law — and even shut the government down today because of it — chances are you’re not completely sure about what it means for you, particularly as a millennial.

For starters, if you’re a millennial who is employed (woo-hoo!) and already have insurance through your employer, today pretty much means nothing to you since open enrollment into the marketplace (translation: government insurance plans) doesn’t affect you. However, if you’re among the millions of twenty-somethings unemployed or in college, then listen up!

  • If you’re 26 or younger, you can remain on your parent’s health insurance plan
  • If you don’t have coverage you can sign up through the ACA to find low-cost private insurance plans
  • If you have a preexisting condition, you’re covered
  • If you’re a woman, HOLLA!!!! Under the ACA you have access to 22 preventative services at NO COST, including cervical and breast cancer screenings, contraceptives and STD testing
  • Enrollment for the ACA begins today, October 1st and closes on March 31, 2014 — so sign up soon!
  • If you don’t get coverage by 2014, you can still apply for the ACA, but you’ll be required to pay a fee of $95
  • If you can’t afford a private plan, you may qualify for free or low-cost coverage Medicaid, which many states are expanding to even more residents in 2014.

What if you can’t afford a monthly insurance plan and simply want coverage in emergencies? That’s where the catastrophic health plan comes into play. The health plan is aimed to help those with limited income under the age of 30 in times of unforeseen emergencies.

  • The plan covers three primary care visits a year at no cost, along with free preventative benefits
  • The plan requires you to pay ALL of your medical costs up to a certain amount (several thousands of dollars)
  • Costs for essential health benefits (emergency services, prescriptions, hospitalizations) are then paid by the insurance company
  • Premiums are much lower than regular health coverage, but only cover you when you need a lot of care (i.e. a long hospital visit after a horrible crash), so it’s only great for worst-cast scenarios.

Head over to www.healthcare.gov to begin enrollment today.

***Due to an overwhelming number of people applying to the program, state websites are experiencing a few technical difficulties. Be patient and keep trying!