By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)--With the next phase of the Affordable Care Act launching October 1st, many uninsured people will be signing up for health coverage.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on how a pre-existing medical condition will no longer be a barrier.

Regina Meads, from Germantown, is doing her daily foot exercises.  She ruptured a tendon in her foot earlier this year.

“They told me I needed to have an operation done, so I said I don’t have money to pay for this operation to get done.  I have no insurance,” said Regina.

She lost her job a year ago, along with health insurance.  So she couldn’t afford surgery, increasing her risk for more foot problems in the future.

She’s like millions of Americans, with pre-existing or nagging health conditions, who will now be able get insurance without being penalized.

“Health insurance companies will no longer be able to charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition or deny you coverage, so this will help a large majority of uninsured Americans, said Antoinette Kraus, the Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

The coalition will help consumers navigate through the Health Insurance Marketplace signup process.

In January 2014, when insurance coverage begins, providers can’t refuse to cover treatment for conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

“This will help folks, ya know, with chronic health conditions start to get treatment to help address the issues that come along with having a pre-existing condition,” said Antoinette.

Regina is finally looking forward to getting proper treatment.

“I will go to a foot and ankle specialist, and I will get x-rays done.  And if I have to get an MRI, I can finally get an MRI done,” said Regina.

There is one exception, grandfathered individual health insurance plans.  The kind you buy yourself, not through an employer, do not have to cover pre-existing conditions.  But if you have one of those plans you can switch to a marketplace plan during open enrollment and get coverage.

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