So bottom line, what does this cost?
Costs of plans vary, depending on where you live in this country and your age; the White House says you should be able to buy a plan for less than a $100 a month. If you want to see what your bill may look like, check out the Kaiser Family Foundation's calculator. The nonpartisan foundation's tool provides an estimate of your costs, depending on where you live and the plan you pick.
The bronze level is basic, silver is midrange and gold and platinum are higher-end. There is also a catastrophic option. Catastrophic insurance covers three doctor visits per year at no cost and preventive care such as screenings and vaccines. This plan will carry a higher deductible.
What do I get for my money now?
All plans bought through the exchanges must offer the same coverage benefits. Mental health is covered, behavioral health is covered, maternity care, emergency care, hospitalization, newborn care, prescription drugs, rehab, lab services and pediatric services. All offer free preventive care. Nearly all cap out-of-pocket costs to $6,350 and $12,700 per family. No one can be turned away. No one will be penalized because of their gender (women often paid more in the old insurance system). Only smokers may be penalized in some plans and some older people may pay more.
Dental is covered for kids, but it is not for adults. You'll have to buy a separate policy for that or find a policy that offers it.
There are more limited doctor and hospital networks offered in these plans. That's how insurance companies have been able to keep costs down and offer all these benefits. Insurance brokers advise you look to see if your doctor or favorite hospital is considered in-network with whatever plan you buy. Otherwise, you will have to switch doctors or pay a higher fee for seeing him or her.
Didn't Obama say I can keep my policy?
Some people who do buy their own insurance have been getting letters from their insurance companies saying their plan has been canceled. That's because their old plans don't qualify under these Affordable Care Act rules that mandate insurance cover all these benefits.
With these plans you will pay a monthly premium, and may also have a co-pay or be asked to meet a deductible when you go to the doctor or hospital.
Is there help to pay for all this new insurance?
The good news is, if you go through the exchanges rather than buy directly from an insurance company, you will likely be eligible for tax breaks and subsidies to pay for your insurance. The assistance is available to those with incomes of up to four times the federal poverty level -- this year, that's $45,960 for an individual or $94,200 for a family of four -- and will be calculated on a sliding scale.
You can take this subsidy as a tax credit or the government will pay the insurance company directly.
You may also want to check to see if you will qualify for Medicaid. So far, 26 states are moving toward expanding who is eligible for the federal government-funded health program for lower income families and individuals.
I've got Medicare. Does the Affordable Care Act change that?
You are in a group that doesn't need to worry about the Affordable Care Act. Medicare doesn't change with the Affordable Care Act.
So then, why the fuss?
Studies show people are politically riled up about all this change in health insurance, but when it comes down to it, Gruber said the sky won't fall next year and things should get better.
"Once people experience it and go through this initial transition, which is going to be rocky, then they're going to realize the benefits of having a system like this," Gruber said.
"Yes, if you are young and healthy it will be more expensive, but right now this is an insurance market which not only is discriminatory, but the typical person who buys their own insurance has a very weak insurance plan. (Under the Affordable Care Act) everyone will have will have guaranteed, real insurance that's fairly priced."