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Out2Enroll: Health insurance marketplaces open today!

(Editor's note: SDGLN Editor in Chief Ken Williams reports that there is a glitch in some of the drop-down menus at the Covered California website. He was told that the website should be fully functional on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013.)

Today is the day.

For the past three years, we've heard a lot of talk about October 1. You might know October 1 as the day that Walt Disney World opened in 1971 ... or the day that Sony launched the first CD player in 1982. Okay, we didn't know that stuff either - and thanks, Wikipedia for making us feel old!

So what's with all the talk about October 1, 2013? Well, today marks the start of a new era for the LGBT community. For the first time, we will be able to go online, compare new health insurance options, and purchase affordable coverage even with a preexisting condition. This is especially true if you're uninsured, buy health insurance yourself, or get health insurance from a small employer.

Sounds great - where can I sign up?

We're glad you asked! Beginning today, you can check out your state's new Health Insurance Marketplace. There will be Marketplaces in each and every state where applicants like you can review their options online, over the phone, or in person and sign up for affordable coverage through www.healthcare.gov.

Signing up is a marathon, not a sprint. We encourage you to check out your Marketplace, compare your options, and start the process. You can shop until next March, although your best bet might be to sign up by December 15 so that your benefits begin on January 1, 2014. We all know that health insurance is complicated so we hope you'll take advantage of this time to consider your choices, get help if you need it, and make an informed decision.

And, speaking of making an informed decision, Out2Enroll will be fully up and running on National Coming Out Day, October 11. We'll have answers to many of the questions that you have about Obamacare and how the law affects the LGBT community.

Can't wait until October 11? Take some steps in the meantime.

* Check out healthcare.gov. We know that choosing to get covered is a personal decision. That's why we want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a decision that works for you. But we'd be lying if we didn't tell you that we think getting covered is important - for you, your family, and our community. Get online and explore your new options.

* Share your story with us. We always want to hear from you about your experience getting covered - whether it was in the past or about getting covered under Obamacare. Share your story HERE.

* Forward this message to five friends. Do you know if your friends are covered? We know that our community is less likely to have insurance than the non-LGBT community so there's a good chance that one or more of your friends is uninsured or underinsured. Begin the conversation today and make sure your friends know about Out2Enroll and their new coverage options.

* Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Want to know the best way to stay plugged in? We'll be checking in with you via Twitter (@Out2Enroll) and Facebook. Make sure you're connected and we'd love to hear from you!

With health reform finally here, you've never been closer to finding coverage that fits your needs and budget! We'll check in with you again on National Coming Out Day, but in the meantime: Be Out. Be Healthy. Get Covered.

California residents should visit Covered California to learn more, shop, and select health plans.