insurancegraphicSign-up season for and state insurance marketplace begins this weekend.

Individuals or families can either sign up or renew their health insurance coverage for 2015 using the Health Insurance Marketplace. The program offers options for differing plans, as well as financial assistance for those who qualify.

The health insurance marketplaces are part of a two-pronged strategy for helping the uninsured. Together with Medicaid expansion for low-income people, about 10 million people gained coverage in 2014, the first year the insurance marketplace plans were available.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said that she is aiming to have 9.1 million people enroll in 2015 for the private coverage.

Financial help is available for a single person earning up to $47,000 or a family of four with income up to $95,000 a year. and state marketplaces allow those who don’t have health insurance on the job to buy private insurance, and most will qualify for the financial assistance. Under the Affordable Care Act, no insurance applicant can be denied coverage based on a pre-existing medical condition like heart disease and stroke.

Having more people insured is vital to the American Heart Association’s mission to fight heart disease and stroke. Research has shown that people who have health insurance have greater access to primary care doctors, better preventative services and are more likely to take their prescribed medications properly or call 9-1-1 if they experience heart attack or stroke symptoms. Overall, they also have better health outcomes.

The more uninsured Americans who become covered, the more affordable premiums will be for everyone. Many people are required to purchase insurance to avoid fines specified under the law.

People interested in signing up can visit the Marketplace directly online to get a look at the plans and premiums. Or call 1-800-318-2596.

Open enrollment ends February 15, 2015.

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