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How affordable is affordable health care?
By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- More than 25 percent of El Pasoans reportedly don't have health insurance. In four days, they'll be able to go online and shop for affordable care.
It's part of the Affordable Care Act. When most people hear that term, they think -- health insurance for everyone. People are still left with a lot of unknowns, though.
"It's a complex law," said Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez.
One main question people are asking: How affordable is affordable care?
"Folks should know there are different levels of coverage available to them. There's a bronze level, a silver level, a gold and a platinum," said Mayra Alvarez, associate director at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.
Alvarez estimated most people won't be paying over a certain price cap, though.
[They] will be paying $100 or less for the cost of their coverage or they'll be able to enroll in Medicaid," said Alvarez.
Alvarez said that's equivalent to some people's cellphone bill. While it sounds affordable to many, some people don't have the extra cash to spend. If people dont log on to www.healthcare.gov, a website where people can shop for insurance, and pick a plan, they'll face a fine.
While Alvarez wouldn't confirm exactly how much that fine would be, she said there are a few exceptions.
"If you don't file taxes, you're not subject to the requirement," said Alvarez.
Meaning those people won't be required to pick a plan.
Another major concern -- people who already have health insurance. Alvarez said nothing has to change, but for people unsatisfied with their plan, come Oct. 1, they can also log on to www.healthcare.gov and search for plans.
Picking an insurance plan can be overwhelming. Thats why there's a program for people in the borderland to turn to.
It's called Enroll El Paso. The goal is to inform people what health insurance plans are available and best suit them.
It's sort of like online shopping. Trained navigators will help people understand the marketplace. Anyone can ask for help.
"We'll be going to health fairs, we will be going to organizations, school districts, churches and individuals," said navigator Margarita Sanchez.
If you want Enroll El Paso's help, either visit www.enrollelpaso.org or call 915-206-2121.