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NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman answers questions on ACA

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(NBC) - Too many Americans are still clueless about the Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that insurance exchanges open on Tuesday, Oct. 1. To help demystify the ACA, NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman appeared on Thursday's broadcast of "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams."

If you're still confused -- and we get that! -- Snyderman will continue to answer your questions about next week's Obamacare rollout. Ask your questions on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ with the hashtag #AskDrNancy, and Snyderman will answer some of the most important or common queries.

Here are some of your most pressing concerns:

Q: Starting next year, everyone will be required to get health insurance or they will face a fine. How much is the penalty?
A: Starting in 2014, if you do not have health coverage, you will be penalized when you file your tax return the following year. For an individual, the fee is a minimum of $95, or 1 percent of adjusted income -- whichever is greater. For a family, the minimum penalty can't be more than $285 -- but it can go as high as 1 percent of adjusted family income.

Within two years, there's quite a jump. In 2016, the penalty is $695 for every adult, and the minimum penalty for a family is capped at $2,085. However, it can be as high as 2.5 percent of the family income -- whichever is greater.

Q: Will pre-existing conditions have an effect on cost?
A: No. Under the Affordable Care Act, it will be against the law to be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition -- things like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A pre-existing condition will not affect the cost of your monthly premium and you can choose from the same plans as everyone else in your state.

Q: So, where do I sign up?
A: Go to healthcare.gov to fill out an application and check out your options for health care coverage. There's also an 800 number already available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's 1-800-318-2596 and you can speak with someone who can help you through the process.

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