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(KSDK) - Since Oct. 1, more than 6 million people have enrolled in new coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Those people signed up either for private insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace or for the Medicaid program.

The next ACA deadline for coverage is Jan. 15. Anyone who enrolls with the Health Insurance Marketplace by that date can have health insurance coverage as soon as Feb. 1.

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Enrollment begins when you fill out the Health Insurance Marketplace application, which explains whether you qualify for a private health insurance plan as well as whether you qualify for lower costs based on your household size and income.

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Some people might qualify for the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs in their state.

Even if you don't qualify for lower costs, you can still use the Marketplace to buy insurance.

There are three ways to enroll. You can sign up online, over the phone at 800-318-2596 or with in-person assistance.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, you'll have the opportunity to compare private plans side-by-side and choose the one that fits your family and budget.

There are four steps you can take to be sure you're ready for your coverage to begin:

  1. Pay your premium to your health insurance plan by the due date.
  2. Carefully review your member card and other materials your plan sends you.
  3. Review your plan's provider directory so you'll know where you can go for care.
  4. Contact your plan with any questions or if you don't get a member card and enrollment materials.

If you need a little more time, the open enrollment period continues until March 31.

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