Regardless of your political affiliations, your healthcare insurance options may undergo changes between now and 2014. The bottom line of this already-approved measure is that, by law, everyone will be required to have healthcare insurance. The truth is that many don't know what these changes are and how they will affect coverage-holders and dependents. Here is a general overview of what you need to know about the new upcoming public options.

SEE: Buying Private Health Insurance

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP)
Under the PCIP, individuals with a pre-existing condition are almost guaranteed eligibility for health insurance coverage. All this comes with a few caveats of course. For one, the PCIP varies depending on what state you live in. For instance, in some states, the PCIP is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, while others are run by your home state which will have different eligibility requirements than the former. For eligibility requirements in your state and instructions for how to apply, check out the PCIP website.

Consumer Operated and Oriented Insurance Plans
The idea behind the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) is that insurance plans are run by members. In other words, you or your small business may be able to buy health coverage from non-profit, consumer-run health insurance providers. As soon as January 1, 2014, you and others who wish to enter a CO-OP may apply for a federal loan to start your own "consumer-driven" health plan. The objective of the CO-OP is to focus on its members' needs as a collective entity to improve access to care.

Affordable Insurance Exchanges
Affordable Insurance Exchanges are meant to create more transparency regarding consumer healthcare options. For small employers, they are designed to provide more affordable plans that meet their needs. For individuals, these exchanges help you shop to compare both private and public health plans. In other words, they act as the middle man and find out whether you are eligible for tax credits that make health insurance more affordable.

SEE: 5 Health Insurance Considerations

Young Adults and Health Coverage
What does the Affordable Care Act say about coverage for your adult child? The law states that you can now keep your children on your health insurance plan until the age of 26. According to HealthCare.gov, children may remain on your plan even if they are married, attending school or not financially dependent on you. The idea behind this law is that it will provide affordable health insurance for all young adults.

The Bottom Line
Come January 1, 2014, new public insurance options will be available to you as an alternative to the private insurance market. One of the goals of this measure is to make health insurance more attainable and more transparent. A fully transparent health insurance market will be difficult to accomplish, but there is light at the end of the tunnel with this health plan. If the health law continues to stand in 2012, Americans will be able to shop for health insurance on new exchanges.

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