October 1, 2013: That's the date individuals will be able to begin signing up for health insurance on the so-called exchanges. In Maine, individuals and businesses will sign up through the federal government's website or by telephone. For individuals, the toll free number to call is 1-800-318-2596. For businesses, the toll free number is 1-800-706-7893. The "open enrollment" period ends March 31.
January 1, 2014: All Americans, with a few exceptions, must have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014, or pay a penalty. For those who can't afford health insurance, the federal government will provide subsidies to help pay for coverage. The level considered affordable is 9.5% of family income. Small businesses, those with fewer than 50 employees, can enroll through the Business Health Options Program, or SHOP Marketplace beginning Jan. 1.
March 31, 2014: The "open enrollment" period on the health insurance exchanges come to an end. Individuals who haven't enrolled by that date, with some exceptions, will be subject to a penalty.