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Get Health Insurance or Face Fine

This article appeared in a January 2016 issue of the student newsletter.

They say everything in Texas is bigger, but bigger isn’t always better.

Case in point: our number of uninsured residents. Approximately two out of every 10 Dallasites do not have health coverage— that is around 446,000 people!

Are you one of the uninsured living in Dallas? It’s time to take responsibility for your personal health. Below are six reasons to get covered this month.

1. To Avoid a Federal Fine

After Jan. 31, 2016, you can’t buy a health insurance plan through the U.S. government's Health Insurance Marketplace for the rest of 2016 unless you have a life change — like having a baby, getting married, or losing other health coverage — that qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period.

If you don’t have health coverage in 2016, you’ll pay a penalty of either 2.5% of your income, or $695 per adult ($347.50 per child) — whichever is higher. In some cases, however, you might qualify for an exemption from this federal requirement.

2. Free Help on Campus

This month you can apply for health insurance right on campus.

Representatives from the Young Invincibles will be here the first week of classes (Jan. 19-22). They can help you enroll for health care and answer any questions you may have about getting health insurance or using

Representatives from Be Covered Texas will also have information tables on campus the week of Jan. 11-15.

3. You Could Meet the President

The above campus visits are open to the community as part of a citywide effort to promote healthier living and win a national title.

You see, Dallas was selected for President Obama’s Healthy Community Challenge. This national competition includes 20 cities nationwide, each vying for the title of Healthiest Community.

The city with the largest increase in health coverage gets bragging rights, a healthier community and a visit from President Obama to celebrate their success.

4. You’re Human

Don’t wait until you become sick to get health insurance. People who get seriously ill or injured can quickly go bankrupt if they do not have health insurance.

You may be healthy now, but if you’re human you will get sick. It is unavoidable. Be smart and be insured!

5. It Is Increasingly Affordable

Texas has been working to make sure its residents can afford health care.

That’s why 79% of Texans can find a 2016 health plan for $100 or less, 73% can find a plan for $75 or less and 66% can find a plan for $50 or less.

Also, most people who apply for health insurance qualify for a premium tax credit that lowers their monthly insurance bill.

For example, 85% of Texans who signed up for health care coverage in 2015 — a total of 804,918 people — received a tax credit, and consumers saved an average of $244 per month.

6. You Can Shop Online

Buying health care is convenient with . You can browse Texas plans and pricing at the click of a button! You can also apply by phone, by paper application or with in-person help.

Of course, each health care plan is unique, so take time to find what’s best for you. Don’t just buy what your parents chose or your best friend swears by.

Note: As the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions have taken effect, 17.6 million Americans have gained health coverage, and since 2010, America has reduced its uninsured rate by 45%. In Texas, the adult uninsured rate dropped from 27% in 2013 to 20.8% in the first half of 2015.