As the Oct. 1 launch of the federal health insurance marketplace nears, people may have questions about how it works.
Some Texans may get a visit from volunteers – such as those with the Get Covered America campaign of Enroll America – going door to door to answer those questions. But consumers can also turn to counselors, websites and phone numbers for answers.
- Visit healthcare.gov in English, or cuidadodesalud.gov in Spanish. These are the federal websites that have information about health insurance.
Come October 1, people can actually buy insurance plans through those sites. Texas is one of several states which elected not to set up its own statewide insurance marketplace. So if you're a Texan in need of insurance, those are the sites you will go to to buy coverage.
This tool is for consumers who want to know if they will qualify for a tax subsidy. “You can enter basic information,” says Stacey Pogue with the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Your age, your income, and the number of family members and get information, an estimate about what your premium will cost and what kind of financial assistance is available to you in the marketplace.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation also created a Spanish-language cartoon video explaining basics about getting coverage.
- Other sites:
The AARP has an interactive guide to the health care law, which users can navigate by state.
The White House website has an overview of the law.
In the Austin area, Central Health is coordinating efforts with several local organizations to provide in-person application assistance in Travis, Hays and Williamson Counties. Locations include CommUnityCare, Lone Star Circle of Care and Foundation Communities centers.
Here is a full list of locations (click to enlarge):
Lisa McAdams is with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Dallas. She says other organizations that want to get staff trained to be counselors can visit their website. "That’s a place where the information about the various types of training is available for organizations who have not yet applied to become certified counselor application organizations," McAdams says. "The application for that is there as well."
Over the Phone:
Central Texas residents can call 2-1-1 for more information (hours and locations) about application assistance.
For 24-hour government help in English, Spanish and 150 languages, call 1-800-318-2596.