Starting 7 a.m. Tuesday, October 1, you ll be able to log on to the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange to shop and apply for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Monday, the Exchange gave a sneak preview of what to expect on the website, Washington Healthplanfinder.

Brad Finnegan, operations manager for the Exchange, said by putting in basic information about your family, you can look at prices, and shop for plans. To actually apply for coverage, you will need to create an account, put in social security numbers of family members, and information about your income.

State leaders say the site launch will be historic.

Think back. Think back to the 1930's when Social Security was getting started, said State Senator Karen Keiser. Think back to the 1960's when Medicare was just starting.

Bracing for an influx of people logging on Tuesday, the staff conducted security and stress tests on the site and says it should be able to handle the traffic. But they ll deal with issues as they arise.

Remember we're building something that has never been done before, said Michael Marchand, director of communications for the Exchange. There's never been a marketplace like this. There's never been a blueprint for us to follow. What we're doing is unchartered territory.

The exchange is relying on outreach efforts and advertising to remind the one million uninsured residents in the state that they need to enroll.

If you're applying for just yourself, Finnegan says it could take around 20 minutes to fill out the application. If you are applying for your entire family, it will take considerably longer.

Applications need to be filled out by December 23, 2013, to have coverage by January 1st, 2014.

Related links:

Washington Healthplanfinder

Washington Health Benefits Exchange

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