As the final open enrollment deadline to sign for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act looms, thousands of Texans scramble to find the best health plan.
The final sign-up period to have health insurance for 2016 and avoid paying an ObamaCare fine ends January 31.
According to statistics released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 474,000 Texans enrolled in a health plan through the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchange by the December 15 deadline. HHS officials said they expect that number to grow even higher as the January deadline approaches.
However, shopping for a health plan that best fits your criteria can be a stressful task. According to new study by the Common Wealth Fund, many Texans choose to opt out of the stressful search by not signing up for a health plan completely. This year, those individuals who selected the uninsured route will have to pay a higher penalty under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average tax penalty will rise to $969 per household that chooses to remain uninsured or 2.5 percent of your family income, whichever is higher.
Lehmann Li, CEO and creator of Savue.com, said the higher penalties are forcing more people to consider signing up for health insurance this year than ever before. Li said he created the free website to help alleviate the stress of shopping for the proper health plan.
According to Li, the most common mistake people make when signing up for health insurance is simply choosing the plan with the lowest premium.
“It does not make sense to sign up for a plan with a low monthly premium,” Li said, “only to end up spending a lot more in total because the drugs are not covered or there is a large co-payment or co-insurance for the drug cost.”
“For many consumers who have or have a family member with a major chronic disease like diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol and spend a lot on prescription drugs and non-prescription health goods,” Li said, “our website can help identify the health insurance plans with lower expected total out-of-pocket costs during the entire year.”
According to a new study, Texas tops the list as the state with the worst health care accessibility and affordability. The nonprofit group, the Common Wealth Fund, found 26 percent of working-age adults in Texas do not have health insurance.
“Health care is an expense that every household has to worry about,” Li said. “Certainly you should try to save a dollar whenever you can save a dollar, but consumers need to make sure they look at the total cost of a health plan, and not just the premium cost, especially Texans who have a major chronic disease.”