With its immediate future secure, the health care law now enters a crucial 12 months. Federal and state officials must race to prepare for Jan. 1, 2014, which is opening day for some of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s most far-reaching provisions. Among the critical changes that will take place this year: state insurance exchanges will be finalized, a payroll tax hike to support expanded health coverage will go into effect for earners in higher income brackets, and individuals and families who do not currently own coverage will make plans to rectify this or pay an annual fine as outlined in the individual mandate.

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