DALLAS –– On Oct. 1, enrollment in the Affordable Care Act will begin for people across North Texas, including the uninsured.
A new report by the Department of Health and Human Services has estimated the premiums for various health plans. Under the new law, four separate plans will be available: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Bronze will be the cheapest.
According to the agency, a single person in the Dallas/Forth Worth Area earning $25,000 a year will pay an average of $74 a month for coverage. A family of four earning $50,000 annually would pay an average monthly premium of $26.
All of the estimates include a government credit. In all, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans, HHS said.
At the Los Barrios Community Clinic in Dallas, which operates partially on federal funds, they are preparing to begin enrolling clients. Currently, 66 percent of their patients are uninsured.
"We have several employees are being trained right now to help patients, because we want to do it right," said Leonor Marquwz Cantu, CEO.
Statewide, 24.6 percent of Texans lack health insurance, according to the U.S. Census’ Bureau’s American Community Survey. That’s the highest rate in the nation –– Nevada trails closest, as 23.5 percent of its residents lack coverage.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth Metro Area, 22.2 percent of residents went without coverage.
To put those numbers in perspective, the national uninsured rate dipped in 2012 to 15.4 percent from 15.7 percent. Six million Texans were part of the 48 million Americans who lacked health care in 2012.
Under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, all citizens must carry some form of health care or face a penalty. The enrollment period begins on Oct. 1 and ends March 31, 2014.
Dr. Devon Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, says consumers will have to do their homework.
"Look at these plans, because some of them have narrow networks," Herrick said. He added that consumers should make sure their doctor is in the network.
Experts say that the premium consumers pay will depend on how many people actually sign up for the plan. Right now, the exact number is unclear. According to experts, the hope is that young, healthier people will sign up.