MGN Online

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Consumers can start shopping for health insurance for the first time on the state exchange under the Affordable Care Act. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you're looking to purchase insurance.
    
WHERE TO GO:
    
                www.healthcare.gov or call 800-318-2596. The website also has a live chat feature. If you're looking for in-person assistance, specially trained counselors known as navigators will be positioned around the state at community health centers, college campuses, sports events, libraries and fairs. Visit to localhelp.healthcare.gov to find one near you.
    
IMPORTANT DATES:
    
Enrollment is from Oct. 1 through March 31. Coverage begins January 1.
    
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
    
Insurers are offering 102 plans in Florida, the second highest in the country. But roughly 20, mostly rural, counties will only have coverage options from one insurer. The cost of the plans was supposed to be released Tuesday morning by federal health officials, but was delayed by technology problems with the website. Prices will vary depending on where you live, how many plans there are to choose from in your city and whether you choose a bronze, silver, gold, premium or catastrophic plan.
    
WILL I BE ELIGIBLE FOR A TAX SUBSIDY?
    
Residents making less than roughly $46,000 a year and a four-person family with an income of less than $94,000 a year may receive vouchers to help offset premium costs. But the amount will vary widely depending on income, location, the plan, family size, age, and even tobacco use.
    
WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO HAVE TO SIGN UP?
    
Tax records to show your income and family size, including how many dependents you claim and your Social Security number. You also need to have an email to enroll online.
    
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T BUY INSURANCE?
    
The Affordable Care Act requires all individuals to have insurance in 2014. Those who don't will face a roughly $95 fine the first year.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)