The March 31 deadline for nearly everyone to be signed up for health insurance or risk paying a fine is fast approaching.
Since October, about 4 million people have signed up for private plans through the new state and federal marketplaces, the Obama Administration says, although it's not clear how many were already insured elsewhere.
In addition, many poor adults now have Medicaid coverage for the first time through expansions of the program in about half the states.
President Barack Obama is urging people who have coverage to help any uninsured friends and relatives get signed up.Even before the health care law passed in 2010, more than 8 out of 10 U.S. residents had coverage, usually through their workplace plans or the government's Medicare or Medicaid programs. Some have private policies that meet the law's requirements. If you're already covered that way, you meet the law's requirements.
There are exceptions. The big one is the Medicaid program for the poor. People who meet the requirements can sign up anytime, with no deadline. Also, people remain eligible for Medicare whenever they turn 65.
If you are insured now and lose your coverage during the year, by getting laid off from your job, for example, you can use an exchange to find a new policy then.
People can sign up outside the open enrollment period in special situations such as having a baby or moving to another state.