Guest Post: What every Texan Needs to Know to Get Covered and Stay Covered

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Thanks to the folks at Get Covered America for this important post reminding Texans what we’ll need to do to get covered this year.

AUSTIN – November 1 is the first day of the third open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. From November 1 to January 31, Texans will have the opportunity to enroll in quality, affordable health coverage or renew their plan if they already have coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

As of June 2015, over 940,000 Texans were enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace, providing them with the peace of mind that comes with protecting themselves and their families. This coming open enrollment period is the next opportunity Texans have to take advantage of the coverage options available through the Affordable Care Act —or potentially face a fine for going without health insurance.

Here are five things every Texan needs to know about the upcoming open enrollment period:

1. Open enrollment begins on November 1.
Thousands of Texans have enrolled in coverage through the Affordable Care Act and on November 1, the Marketplace will reopen until January 31, 2016. During this time, uninsured Texans will be able to enter the Health Insurance Marketplace and select a plan that fits their needs and budget. Texans who currently have coverage through the Marketplace will also have an opportunity to shop the new options available and find the best plan for them. If you don’t have health insurance or need to renew your plan, November 1 is your chance to find a plan you can afford.

2. 85% of Texans got financial help to make their plan more affordable!
For many Texans, affordability is a real concern in their health care decision-making. In the past, high premium costs have forced many to go without health insurance simply because they couldn’t afford it.

The good news is that financial assistance is available to help you pay for your plan – making it truly affordable. In fact, 85% of Texans received financial assistance to make their plan more affordable, and the average Texan who received financial assistance paid $89 per month for their coverage. To find what you could qualify for through the Affordable Care Act, you can check out the Get Covered Calculator tool at

3. In-person help is available to help you understand your options and enroll in a plan.
The enrollment process can be confusing for many, especially if you’ve gone a long time without coverage. Luckily, there is free, in-person enrollment help available in your area. These are unbiased experts in your community who are certified to sit down with you, explain your options, and help you make the best coverage decision for you and your family. They can also help you renew your plan if you’re already insured through the Affordable Care Act and want to keep your coverage. You can find someone near you by using the Get Covered Connector tool at

4. Plans and prices change every year, and now you can compare your options easily.
Everybody’s needs and financial situations are different, and the wide variety of plans can be intimidating. During the third enrollment period, Get Covered America will launch the Get Covered Plan Explorer, a free web-based plan comparison tool that can provide you with up-to-date and easy to understand information on your health coverage options.

By answering a few simple questions about your household, the Plan Explorer will generate a list of available plans that meet your needs – including the plans that cover your doctors and prescriptions. The tool also takes into account the monthly premium and estimated out-of-pocket costs, so you’ll have a good idea of what you’ll pay throughout the year. Using side-by-side comparisons, you can be confident that you’re choosing the plan that best fits your needs and your budget.

5. You may face a fine come tax time if you remain uninsured.
This third enrollment period is an opportunity to not only gain access to quality affordable healthcare for you and your family, but to also avoid paying a fine when you file your taxes. If you do not enroll in a plan by the deadline of January 31, 2016, you could face a fine of $695 or 2.5% of your yearly income, whichever is greater. The fine will increase each year, making it more and more costly to delay complying with the law – on top of having to pay for health services without coverage during the year. A savings of $695 or more could better serve you and your family by purchasing a plan with free preventative care, prescription drug coverage, and other essentials for a healthy life.

November 1 marks an exciting opportunity for Texans who need to find or renew their health insurance. With these five simple facts, you can prepare for open enrollment and take action to protect yourself and your family with quality, affordable health coverage. And don’t forget that if you don’t enroll by January 31, you might face a fine – so be sure to act right away.

You can learn more about the Affordable Care Act, your coverage options, and how you can help your friends and family get covered at


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Burnt Orange Report

Burnt Orange Report, or BOR for short, is Texas' largest political blog, written from a progressive/liberal/Democratic standpoint.

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