By Senator Carlos Uresti
Despite the rumors you may have heard or the post your cousin shared on Facebook, the Affordable Care Act, or as it is more commonly referred to "Obamacare", is still law, and as of November 1st, 2017, Texans without employer-sponsored health insurance have been able to purchase a plan on the Health Exchange.
Because of politics in Washington D.C., the enrollment period is shorter than in years past, and local navigators have had their hours cut. That said, individuals and families, who go without insurance in 2018 are going to be charged a financial penalty. In addition to the fee, failing to get health insurance puts you and your family at risk of bankruptcy if you have a heart attack or are in a car accident.
Health insurance isn't a luxury. It's a necessity. Because of consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance provider is required to provide certain free preventative services, including: blood pressure screens, diabetes and cholesterol tests, mammograms, colonoscopies, regular pediatric visits, vaccinations, and flu shots. The preventative services can help patients to catch medical issues while they are treatable, to help patients with chronic conditions better manage their illnesses. These preventative services can truly be life or death, and health insurance is a way to help make sure that everyone has the ability to be screened, get tested, and stay healthy.
The website, healthcare.gov, has a ton of information regarding the health care exchange, what to expect, and frequently asked questions. If you are in the San Antonio area, you should visit enrollsa.com for additional information about the health insurance plans, ways to get in-person assistance, and a calendar of events related to the open enrollment period. For individuals in the San Antonio area, who do not have access to the internet, dialing 2-1-1 will connect you to a person who can talk you through your options.
Texas leads the nation in number of uninsured residents. This is an unfortunate statistic, because that means there are millions of individuals who are not taking advantage of the very affordable healthcare options and tax incentives to improve their health, well-being, and quality of life.
Despite misinformation designed to undermine the program, the truth is that once you factor in the generous income tax refunds you could receive, the yearly cost of having insurance under the ACA can be very low—or even free!
Don't let partisan rhetoric out of Washington, D.C. discourage you from signing up for health insurance. The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land, and you owe it to your family and yourself to take care of your health.