AUSTIN, Texas — Texans who want to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act can start enrolling now on healthcare.gov. The sign up period runs through December 15 for coverage starting January 1.
This is the first time since Obamacare became law that those who decide to opt out of health insurance won't be penalized come tax time.
The Trump Administration has also cut funding for outreach and navigator programs, which help people sign up for plans.
Like last year, there are still four insurance providers in the marketplace and those four providers offer a total of 33 different plans this year.
“It’s very comparable to last year,” said Kori Hattemer, the director of financial planning at Foundation Communities. “There are a lot of plans where the prices went down. There are some where it went up, so we really encourage everyone to come in and meet with one of our insurance specialists.”
Hattemer said all of the financial help that’s been available in the previous years is still available. That includes financial assistance for people who qualify for the Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTCs), which lower the cost of premiums.
Health care experts said there are more short-term plans available but warn about serious drawbacks.
“Most of the short-term plans that we’ve seen for Texas actually exclude more than they include,” Hattemer said. “They exclude pre-existing conditions and coverage for those. Some exclude emergency services, hospitalizations, maybe prescriptions. All the plans we’ve seen for Texans exclude maternity care.”
This year’s sign-up period comes as Texas and 19 other states await a federal judge's decision on whether to end Obamacare. They argue it's no longer Constitutional after Congress did away with the individual mandate.
Click the video link above to watch the full interview with Hattemer.