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San Marcos Daily Record: Open Enrollment Soon To Close: Don’t Wait To Get Covered Today

December 6, 2020

With the virus surging, now is especially not the time to be without health insurance. Open Enrollment is the short period during which you can enroll in health insurance, choose your plan, or switch to a better plan. Open Enrollment is underway right now, but you have only until Dec. 15 to sign up. Make the top priority on your holiday shopping list buying yourself and your loved ones health security.

A decade ago, the House committee in Washington on which I serve approved the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since then, so many have done so much to try to deny Central Texas families access to affordable health insurance and strip away protections. This heartbreaking pandemic has made insurance all the more critical — and yet, at the same time, so many have lost health insurance when they lost their jobs. This open enrollment season, we can help our families and our neighbors move forward and get protected.

Though it is being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act and its protection for pre-existing conditions remains the law of the land. It continues to represent the best path for so many to obtain the security of health insurance and access to a family physician — security from the daily possibility of a serious accident or illness, whether COVID-related or not.

Any Supreme Court ruling will not affect coverage you obtained for the coming year. Nothing about what is happening in Washington will deny your right to get covered. You still have the right to choose the health insurance that is best for you and your family, and to enroll for 2021. But it is up to you to exercise your right.

With the commitment of local resources through Ascension and the St. David’s Foundation, Foundation Communities offers free, objective assistance in matching your family’s healthcare needs with alternative insurance policies. You can get aid in enrolling over the phone or set up a video or phone appointment at 737-717-4000. You can find assistance online at https://foundcom.org/ prosper-centers/health-coverage/ and localhelp.healthcare.gov.

Foundation Communities helps you to research plans, networks, and formularies to make it easier to figure out what plan best meets your needs. Last year, 97% of those who came in for help qualified for federal assistance. They found comprehensive insurance with premiums averaging $126 a month. Even if you have a plan already, you may have better options in 2021 with over 70 plans to choose from. It is still worth a call to safely compare your choices.

Selecting a plan is not just about finding the cheapest option. Take time to compare network directories and make sure your doctors and hospital are covered. Too many people are hit by big surprise medical bills because their doctor was not included in their insurance network. I authored legislation to shield consumers from this. In the meantime, you can take preventative steps, like ensuring your plan includes your preferred doctors and has affordable coverage for the care you need.

Junk, short-term plans have been promoted as an alternative to comprehensive coverage from the virtual insurance marketplace. These misleading plans usually do not provide essential coverage like maternity care, mental healthcare or substance abuse treatment, or prescription drugs. They can also deny coverage or charge higher prices to people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, cancer, or even survivors and victims of domestic abuse. Junk insurance is more widely available now, but it’s just that: junk.

Don’t let politics in Washington keep you from getting covered in Texas. Your family can say “no” to those who would take away your rights and “yes” to protection. Safeguard your family from piles of medical bills after an unexpected healthcare need, like a car accident or a prolonged hospital stay while battling COVID-19.

I continue working to improve the Affordable Care Act, to make it both more affordable and more accessible. But, for most Texans, it already offers significant protection. During open enrollment through December 15, make full use of it.

Especially in these hard times, I welcome your good counsel on expanding access to health care, lowering prescription drug prices, ensuring COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are affordable and accessible to all — and on all federal issues, from the COVID-19 relief and unemployment assistance I am fighting for to any other issue that is on your mind. You can write me at Lloyd. doggett@mail.house.gov or https://doggett.house.gov/ survey and can get the latest updates at https://doggett.house.gov/contact/subscribe.

U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) represents Texas’s 35th District in the House of Representatives, including much of San Marcos. He chairs the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.

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