WTOP Answer Desk: Health care exchanges open

WASHINGTON – Federal offices may be closing, but the new health care exchanges are open for business.

It’s a big step forward for the Affordable Care Act and a lot of people have questions. The WTOP Answer Desk is here to help.

Debbie from D.C. writes on our Facebook page that her employer wants top rates to put her college student son on her policy and she just can’t afford it. Her question: Can the exchanges help?

If Debbie’s son is under 21, she can get a “child only” policy on the exchange. And if he is a dependent on her tax return, she might qualify for a subsidy.

If he’s older than 21, Debbie may have other options and should contact the folks who run her local exchange. HealthCare.gov has more information for states.

Anyone can check out coverage on the health insurance exchanges, but it’s primarily for folks who can’t get into a group policy and have to get insurance on their own.

The bottom line is if there’s coverage through work and it’s pretty good, most will want to keep it.

Federal workers will continue to get their coverage from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and health care for the military isn’t affected either.

Medicare is not part of the health care exchanges, but retirees under 65 might want to check out their options at HealthCare.gov.

For a simple breakdown of the who, how and what of the upcoming healthcare law, read this WTOP story.

WTOP’s Paula Wolfson contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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