How Austin-area residents can get help enrolling in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act

More than 1.3 million Texas signed up for individual plans through the state's federally facilitated marketplace in 2016, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

More than 1.3 million Texas signed up for individual plans through the state's federally facilitated marketplace in 2016, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Open enrollment began Tuesday for people seeking to buy health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Last year, more than 1.3 million Texas signed up for individual plans through the state's federally facilitated marketplace, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Several Austin-area organizations offer resources to help navigate the process.

If you plan to enroll this year, here are some things you need to know.

Important dates


    • Nov. 1: Open enrollment begins. This is the first day to enroll, re-enroll or make changes to 2017 insurance plans.

    • Dec. 15: Last day to enroll or change coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

    • Jan. 31, 2017: Last day to enroll or make changes a 2017 health plan. After this day, a person can enroll or make coverage changes only if qualified for a special enrollment period.



How to enroll

  • Online: Visit www.healthcare.gov.

  • By Phone: Call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-4325.

  • In Person: There are a number of locations with staff and resources to assist the process, including:

    • Central Health Southeast Health & Wellness Center, 2901 Montopolis Drive, Austin.; call the United Way 2-1-1 Call Center and press option 1 to schedule appointments with Central Health and CommUnityCare staff; Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-noon; www.getenrolledatx.com; CommUnityCare also offers assistance at other locations.

    • Latino Healthcare Forum, 6601 Felix Ave., Austin; 512-386-7777; Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; www.lhcf.org

    • Foundation Communities, North location: 512-496-3786, 5900 Airport Blvd., Austin; South location: 2600 W. Stassney Lane, Austin, 512-610-7386; visit website for hours; www.insurecentraltx.org.

    • People's Community Clinic, 1101 Camino La Costa, Austin; 512-478-4939; Mon.-Tue. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Wed. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Thu. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; www.austinpcc.org.

    • All other locations with in-person enrollment resources can be found here.



  • By mail: You can fill out and mail in a paper application. You will receive eligibility results via mail within two weeks. The paper application will be available for 2017 on Nov. 1.


Other things to remember

  1. What you pay for insurance depends on your income. You can enter in your expected income online for your year of coverage and find out if you qualify for a tax credit that will lower your monthly insurance bill.

  2. Plans cover essential health benefits including hospitalization, emergency services and prescription drugs; pre-existing conditions; and preventative care.

  3. In 2016, if you don’t have insurance, you will have to pay a penalty of either 2.5 percent of your income or $695 per adult (whichever is higher). The fee for 2017 will be adjusted for inflation.

  4. You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to a major life event including losing health coverage, getting married or having a baby.