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WTOP Answer Desk: When to enroll in 'Obamacare'

Monday - 9/23/2013, 1:36pm  ET

AP: 7fe2fbc5-16bd-48a4-b687-328c1979a211
President Barack Obama speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington. Obama and Democrats frequently criticize Republicans for focusing so much attention on repeal efforts of Obamacare without coming up with an alternative. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON -- Starting next month, millions of Americans will sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. With so much confusion and political posturing over "Obamacare," CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger joins the WTOP Answer Desk to try to clear things up.

On Oct. 1, millions of people without access to job-based health care will be able to enroll online through new state insurance markets for coverage effective at the start of next year. The programs are aimed at people who currently don't have access to medical insurance through work or for self-employed people who have been buying expensive coverage.

"These exchanges are marketplaces," Schlesinger says. "They serve as clearinghouses to figure out how to buy health insurance."

Schlesinger estimates that between 6 and 7 million Americans are expected to enroll in the first year.

Adding millions more people to the health care system is bound to create new opportunities for identity thieves and scam artists.

The Obama administration began a high-level effort to reassure Americans about the privacy and security of information submitted under the Affordable Care Act, hoping to blunt complaints from opponents that not enough is being done to protect consumer data.

A toll-free telephone number -- 1-800-318-2596, TTY 1-855-889-4325 -- will connect consumers to federal call centers for reporting fraud or attempted identity theft.

Officials also plan to promote several other initiatives, including a new computer system that will verify Americans' identities to prevent taxpayer-funded subsidies from going to criminals. An education blitz will seek to warn consumers about scams.

The WTOP Answer Desk will be answering more questions about the new health care law later this week.


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The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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