Here's what you should know:
Catastrophic: A type of insurance policy that provides coverage only when medical costs exceed a high amount. Starting in 2014, Americans under age 30 or those who face premiums exceeding 8 percent of income are the only ones who can purchase catastrophic-only insurance. The plan will offer lower monthly costs, but the savings may be offset by out-of-pocket expenses. These plans are not eligible for a federal income tax credit.
Co-pay: The fixed amount of a bill that a patient with health insurance is expected to pay at each doctor's visit or when filling a prescription.
Coinsurance: A type of cost-sharing in which the insurance company pays for a percentage of the cost of a medical treatment and the patient pays the rest. Under Obamacare, coinsurance is prohibited for preventive benefits, such as immunizations.
Deductible: The amount a policy holder must pay for medical services before the insurance company begins picking up the costs. Generally, insurance plans with higher deductibles have lower monthly premiums.
Dependent: Children or spouses of the insured. With Obamacare, insurance companies that provide dependent coverage for children must provide that coverage until age 26, regardless of financial dependency, student status or residency.
Doughnut hole: A coverage gap in the prescription drug benefit of Medicare Part D, the public insurance program for seniors. The government is gradually increasing subsidies to fully close the gap over the next 10 years to cover almost the full cost of prescription drugs for seniors.
Employer shared responsibility mandate: A provision of the law, also known as “Pay or Play,” that says employers with 50 or more full-time employees (or an equivalent combination of full- and part-time employees) will face penalties if one or more of their employees receives a premium tax credit because the employer doesn't insure at least 95 percent of full-time employees and dependents, the coverage doesn't have the newly defined essential health benefits or the premiums exceed 9.5 percent of the employee's wages. Enforcement of this mandate has been delayed a year.
Employer-sponsored insurance: Insurance coverage purchased through the employer, also called group coverage. It is usually cheaper than buying an individual policy because the employer pays part of the premium, and firms with many employees can negotiate rates with insurance companies.
Enrollment period: The dates when consumers or their dependents are allowed to enroll in an insurance plan. For the initial enrollment in Obamacare, the period starts Oct. 1, 2013, and ends March 31, 2014.
Essential health benefits: A core package of items and services required to be included in individual and small group markets, generally provisions that were not typically covered by today's individual policies. They are: ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
Exchange/marketplace: A website where a state's residents can calculate whether they're eligible for a tax credit, compare individual policies and make a purchase.
Individual mandate: A requirement that individuals buy health insurance or face fines.
Medicaid: A government program that provides health insurance coverage to certain low-income Americans.
Medicare: The nation's largest health insurance program, created to cover people age 65 and older and some disabled under age 65.
Out-of-pocket expenses/maximums: All of a consumer's health-care costs besides premiums. Includes deductibles, co-payments and coinsurances. The limit on out-of-pocket costs was not supposed to exceed $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family under Obamacare. But federal officials have granted a one-year grace period to some insurers, allowing them to set higher limits or no limit on some costs in 2014.
Pre-existing conditions: A medical condition diagnosed or treated before the application for insurance. Insurers can no longer discriminate based on pre-existing conditions beginning Jan. 1, 2014. This coverage is one reason for the individual mandate; if people weren't required to buy insurance but also couldn't be denied coverage, they would wait to buy insurance until they got sick, driving up everyone's premiums.
Premium: The amount paid for health insurance on a periodic basis, a cost that can be shared with the employer or government. Beginning in 2014, premiums are no longer allowed to vary based on gender or health status.
Preventive health services: The law prohibits assessing copays or coinsurance for certain recommended preventive services. Those services include: blood pressure screening, colonoscopy, immunizations, mammograms, tobacco cessation counseling, vision screening, breastfeeding support and counseling for domestic violence.
Rescissions: Cancellation of an insurance policy. Under Obamacare, insurers may not rescind or void a policy without showing fraud or intentional misrepresentation.
Subsidies: Federal tax credits that lower the cost of premiums for people with certain incomes. If your annual household income is between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, you may qualify. That's about $46,000 for a single person and $94,200 for a family of four. In general, the lower your income, the bigger your tax credit.
Tricare: The insurance program for military members.
Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, younginvincibles.org