3 Keys Now to Health Reform Success

The Affordable Care Act roll-out online has been rocky, it's true. But the HealthCare.gov website is only part of a much bigger law that many Texans understand will bring affordable health coverage to millions of people who need it. In Texas, many of us are uninsured or have been "uninsurable" because of a pre-existing condition. The most important part of the health law--the part that makes good insurance available, regardless of health history and at prices families can afford--is working just fine. Getting Texans covered is still the end game, so let's keep in mind three things.

1. Patience will be rewarded. Texans have until December 15 to enroll in coverage that begins on January 1, and the enrollment period lasts through March. Officials are working to iron out the kinks as quickly as possible. In the meantime:

2. This is a good time to get prepared. If you're thinking of enrolling, use this time to gather what you'll need:

  • Have you got your paperwork together? You'll need a Social Security or immigration number for everyone in your household enrolling and the previous year's tax return (or a W2 or pay stub) to enroll.
  • Have you set up an account? You can do so by phone with little wait time. The number is 1-800-318-2596.
  • Have you found out about financial assistance you qualify for? A resource from the Kaiser Family Foundation calculates an estimate for you.
  • Have you browsed the plans available to you? The best place to do so is at this HealthCare.gov page. You can also get some sense of prices and your options using tools from Get Covered America and the Texas Tribune.
  • Have you met with someone? A navigator or certified application counselor can assist you in talking through your options and getting enrolled. Find one near you here.

3. Keep some perspective: This is the first time a website of this scale, able to do these things, has ever been tried. Still, it isn't the first time a change in health policy has been slow getting out of the gate before making a positive difference in millions of lives. Medicare Part D, the CHIP program and Medicare and Medicaid all had bumpy beginnings, but each is widely accepted and appreciated now. The Affordable Care Act will get there, too, as more people enroll.

Written by: Christine Sinatra, Texans  Care for Children