ROANOKE, Va. -

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, thousands of Virginian's can start shopping for a healthcare plan in The Marketplace for the Affordable Care Act.

Folks need to remember they do not have to pick an insurance plan right away.

You have until March 31, 2014 to enroll for a healthcare plan. If you do not enroll by this date, you may be subject to a penalty on your 2014 tax return.

If a healthcare plan is purchased by December 15, 2013, your coverage will start January 1, 2014.

On Monday, September 30, WDBJ7 Mornin' talked to Robin Davis, she's a Certified Application Counselor with New Horizons Healthcare in Roanoke.

New Horizons Healthcare is one of many local organizations that will be available to help you with the process.

WDBJ7 will be hosting an Affordable Care Act forum on Oct. 10. We will have a panel of experts that will be available to answer your questions and address your concerns. To submit questions/concerns, click here. To see our page dedicated to the Affordable Care Act, click here.

Davis says first people need to figure out their annual household income, the household size, and what you can afford.

On October 1, The Marketplace will open for you to start shopping. Davis says to think of The Marketplace as a supermarket. Its a place where you pick and choose your plan and what best suits your family.

You are not required to purchase from The Marketplace. you're able to get health insurance from any insurance carrier of your choice.

The benefit of shopping in The Marketplace is that you can find out if you qualify for tax credits and cost sharing reductions.

People who already have insurance do not need to apply to The Marketplace. For example, people who currently have Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare, people with affordable health insurance through your work, or those who are satisfied with their current private health insurance can keep the coverage they already have.

Here are some helpful links about the Affordable Care Act:

1). Online Question and Answer, click here.

2). Submit your questions to WDBJ7.

3). Visit WDBJ7's page with more information on the Affordable Care Act by clicking here.

4). Online Chat, click here.

5). 24/7 Toll Free Call Center, call 1(800) 318-2596.

6). Local Trained Personnel, click here.

If you'd like to schedule an in-person appointment with a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) at New Horizons Healthcare call (540) 362-0360 x115.