Many will get Medicaid coverage at virtually no cost. Others will qualify for private insurance at a fraction of the full premiums. And health plans offered under the law will limit individuals' out-of-pocket expenses to about $6,250 per year or less - a bulwark against gigantic, unexpected medical bills.
The plans also will cover at no charge preventive care such as HIV tests, screening for depression or alcoholism, flu shots, hepatitis vaccine, contraception, and pregnancy care. And insurers will no longer be able to exclude or charge extra for people who already have health problems.
Young Americans are the least likely to be insured: Almost three of 10 adults who are under 35 are not covered. And they go to emergency rooms more than any other group except seniors.
Congressional Republicans and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney want to repeal the health-care overhaul if they win the November elections. Still, with open enrollment for the law's new state-based insurance markets scheduled to begin in October of next year, it's prudent to start considering the options for coverage.
One of the law's most popular provisions, already in effect, ensures parents can keep their adult children enrolled until they turn 26, if the children don't have a suitable workplace option. The government estimates that 3.1 million uninsured young people already have gained coverage this way.
Most people with incomes up to four times the poverty level - $44,680 for an individual or $92,200 for a family of four - will qualify for some help paying for private insurance. People who would have to spend more than 8 percent of their income to buy basic insurance are exempt from a penalty if they go without.
For others who feel they can't afford or just don't want coverage, the penalties start off relatively low in 2014.
The first year's minimum penalty for an individual is $95; that's what a worker making $16,000 would pay. A $35,000 earner would owe $255 - not even a tenth of the estimated $3,325 in premiums.