AMARILLO - Starting Tuesday those without health insurance will be able to get it.
The Affordable Care Act requires everyone to have health insurance. Private insurance companies will continue to sell coverage to anyone who wants it, but only at healthcare.gov can people qualify for discounts on those policies.
Amarillo College student Daniel Ziegler is just one of thousands of uninsured Texans and almost two million uninsured college-age adults. Under the Affordable Care Act he's required to get insurance before April first. "I have no idea what that act is, never heard of it until just now," Zeigler said.
Zeigler isn't alone in his confusion and it's not only students who are unaware of the penalties they will face if they don't get insurance.
Julie Hulsley with Insurance Professionals in Amarillo says her office doors will be open starting Tuesday to help people navigate through healthcare.gov, the online tool that tells what government subsidies an individual or household qualifies for. "If you make between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, then you can apply with that income and receive a subsidy," Hulsley said.
To apply for subsidized coverage, shoppers will need social security numbers of themselves and dependents, W-2 forms or tax statements, policy numbers for any current coverage, and a completed employer coverage tool.
Open enrollment extends until March 31st, and those who don't have coverage by that time will face a minimum yearly penalty of $95. As for Zeigler and many other uninsured citizens in his boat, the main question is "is it affordable?" Healthcare.gov will help answer that question.
"College students really aren't making that much money. Now those who are still on their parents policy until they're 26, that's great. But some may not have that parents policy to be on so they very possibly will qualify for a subsidy so they can get the majority of their policy paid," Hulsley said.
Those with Medicare or Medicaid, or those happy with the their current insurance plan need not apply at healthcare.gov. 800-318-2596 is a 24/7 hotline for any questions regarding the Affordable Care Act.