Benny Boyd

Doggett: Open Enrollment Season soon to close

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By U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett

Open Enrollment is the short period during which you can enroll in health insurance, choose your plan, or switch to a better plan. Don’t wait! Open Enrollment is underway now, but you have only until December 15 to sign up. Make the first thing on your holiday shopping list buying yourself and your loved ones health security. 
Nearly 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 deny Central Texas families access to affordable health insurance and strip away protections. Repeated assaults on our healthcare law may have left access bruised.
But nothing about what is happening in Washington—the tweets or political static—can stop your family from taking full advantage of this health insurance opportunity.
The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. It continues to represent the best path for many to obtain the security of health insurance and access to a family physician—security from an accident or illness.
You still have the right to choose the health insurance that is best for you and your family. But it is up to you to exercise that 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 access information by calling 211 and by going by their north office at 5900 Airport across from ACC Highland Mall or south on 3600 W. Stassney Lane. You can also get aid in enrolling over the phone at 737-717-4000. You can find assistance online at localhelp.healthcare.gov. Likewise, the Lockhart Family Practice Center is providing help at (830) 875-5700.
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, 90% of those who came in for help qualified for federal tax credits. They found comprehensive insurance with premiums averaging $77 a month. Even if you have a plan, you may have better options in 2020; it is still worth comparing 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 wasn’t included in their insurance network. I have 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 care you need.                                                                   
Recently, 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 the 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 an auto accident injury this afternoon or an unexpected diagnosis next week. 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. So, during open enrollment through December 15, make full use of it.

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