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Health insurance open enrollment period has begunand will run until January 31, 2016.  Shop and select coverage by December 15 for coverage beginning January 1.  To shop for healthcare plans, visit healthcare.gov or cuidadodesalud.gov si necesitas ayuda en español. If you need assistance in Austin, you can get information on Insure Central Texas at 512-422-5395 or visit their website www.insurecentraltexas.org. If you need assistance in Bexar County you can visit http://enrollsa.com/ or the San Antonio Public Library here for more information.  CommuniCare, Centromed, and Seton clinics are providing enrollment assistance in Hays, Comal, and Caldwell Counties.  You can find the closest enrollment assistance center to you at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/.  The ACA has improved benefits for Americans in a number of ways.  Now, seniors on Medicare can get mammograms, colonoscopies, and an annual wellness visit for free, and their prescription drug costs have been greatly reduced as the “donut hole” in coverage is gradually closed. Important preventative services for women, including prenatal care, are now available at no cost as well. And young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.


If you think you may be eligible to apply for 2016 for one of the reasons described above, you should visit healthcare.gov and log into your Marketplace account, or, if this is your first time shopping in the Marketplace, you can set up an account.  If you had coverage last year, your application will be pre-filled with your information.  You should check and update your personal information, such as income, household size, and contact information.  Even a small change could affect the size of your premium tax credit that helps pay for your insurance and the cost of your monthly premium.


Compare Options


You can compare plan costs and benefits and select the plan that works best for you.   A new plan may be available, or premiums may have changed from last year if you previously window shopped.  You can search for your current plan using your 14-digit ID.  Depending on your income and your access to other affordable health insurance, you may be eligible for premium tax credits and other subsidies that will help pay for your premiums.  More than 8 out of 10 people who signed up last year qualified for federal subsidies to help pay premiums and the subsidies lowered the cost of their coverage by an average of 76%.


I hope that the information I provide here is helpful to you. I also encourage you to get information about the Affordable Care Act from objective sources like the AARPAmerican Heart AssociationAmerican Diabetes Association, and American Cancer Society. Armed with the facts, you will be able to make informed health care decisions for you and your family.