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Groups Rally to Help Texans Get Health Coverage Before Sat. Deadline

For 2018 insurance, 85 percent of Texans who signed up on Healthcare.gov received financial assistance to bring down the cost of their health plans. (Pixabay)
For 2018 insurance, 85 percent of Texans who signed up on Healthcare.gov received financial assistance to bring down the cost of their health plans. (Pixabay)
December 12, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas - To enroll for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Texans must sign up at Healthcare.gov by no later than this Saturday.

Stacey Pogue, senior policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said community organizations across the state have experts standing by to help people understand their options. She added that if you miss the deadline, you could have to wait another full year to sign up.

"Most people can go to the health-insurance marketplace and, when they enroll, they'll pay $75 a month for coverage, or less," she said. "It depends on your income, but most people are going to be able to find a plan that costs them less than their cell-phone bill."

Pogue said 85 percent of Texans who signed up for ACA coverage in 2018 received financial assistance to help buffer the costs of premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Earlier this year, the Trump administration cleared the way for individuals to buy short-term plans, which can cost far less than traditional plans but also cover less.

Pogue said some short-term plans are cheaper up front, but could end up costing consumers more in the long term.

"But they're cheaper for a reason," she said. "You get what you pay for with those plans; the consumer should be really cautious. And those plans have a bunch of 'gotchas' and loopholes, that mean care that you might need next year won't be covered."

For many people who qualify for financial assistance under the Affordable Care Act, she said, monthly premiums for full-coverage plans could end up costing less than short-term plans. Pogue said it's important to shop around to get the best deal.

"I don't mean go site to site to site, like check Amazon and Walmart and Target," she said. "I mean, go to one website, and on it, there will be several plans. Healthcare.gov has several plans, but it's the only place you can go and get that subsidy."

After Saturday, Pogue said, a person only can get coverage if they experience a "qualifying life event," such as getting married or losing their current health insurance. Help is available at Covertexasnow.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX