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Cut Through The Affordable Care Act Clutter By Answering Six Questions

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Enrollment is now live at healthcare.gov.

There are new websites going live every day to help people understand how the Affordable Care Act, which is over 2,000 pages long, actually applies to their individual situation.

Healthcare.gov, which is the official website for all things ACA and the website where you can go to sign up, has only been up since the end of June. It is, for all intents and purposes, as comprehensive as you can get with the new health care law.

But if you can't find what you are looking for there, you can try the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, Department of Labor website, and AARP, who has their own dedicated page for the ACA. The Texas Medical Association has their own help site up for doctors and patients and on Monday the City of San Antonio released its own version of a help page.

Carol Schliesinger, public relations manager at Metropolitan Health District, said the city wanted to clarify the information that was already out there by providing a local resource that people would trust.

"The way I see it is healthcare.gov is for the entire country, becoveredtexas.org is for the state and the Metro Health [site] is for San Antonio," Schliesinger said.

Those who are currently without health coverage are the most affected by the opening of the exchanges and Schliesinger said people just want to know how "affordable" is "affordable" and if they qualify for federal subsidies.

Each website provides the detailed information for the slice of the public that they serve and with so much political turmoil over the ACA perhaps the trust factor is the most valuable commodity that each organization has.

"The intention is to help not to confuse, so hopefully we do that," Schielsinger said.

If you want to get to the bottom of how the new law affects your household, answer the six questions below and get an idea where to start.

There are several calculators out there and they all do about the same thing. Here is one courtesy of NPR and Kaiser Family Foundation.

This calculator is only meant to be a starting point to give you an idea of your coverage options and tax credits/subsidies in the insurance marketplace. ACA navigators will be able to answer more detailed questions about signing up, but the state is still working out the rules that will govern their activities.

The president's administration issued grants in August for organizations that will be serving as ACA navigators in each state. Texas has eight such organizations that received money according to a release by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

You can sign up for coverage in the marketplace at healthcare.gov

My journalism journey began with an idea for a local art and music zine and the gumption to make it happen with no real plan or existing skill set.