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VOICES

A Price Tag Nobody Should Ever Have to Pay

In this Nov. 10, 2014, file photo, a bus is painted with signs supporting Covered California during a promotional stop in San Jose, Calif.

CREDIT: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez.

Health insurance is important for Luis Veloz, 21, and his family who still have to deal with the burden of debt from being uninsured.

My family is now a quarter of a million dollars in debt due to my dad’s lack of health insurance,” he explains.

When Veloz’s father suffered a heart attack in the middle of his first semester at Southern Methodist University, he had to withdraw from classes to be there for his family.

The importance of having health insurance coverage couldn’t have been clearer: it would have spared Veloz’s family a quarter-million dollars and a lot of heartache and stress.

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CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Luis Veloz.

Veloz, who lives in Dallas, Texas, was able to sign up for quality, affordable health insurance using the health exchange marketplace last year.

He signed up for a silver plan and was paying $200 a month—it was the first time he had gained private insurance.

The process, he explains, was straightforward.

“I was lucky enough to be very involved in the community to be able to have a good experience enrolling and having all my questions answered.”

Across the country, there are several campaigns and community organizations that are promoting enrollment and helping folks pick a health care plan that meets their needs.

For example, in Dallas alone a search yields 120 results of churches, community organizations, and hospitals, and clinics that can help you enroll in a plan before February 15, 2015—the last day of open enrollment.

Despite Veloz’s coverage through the Affordable Care Act, he decided to cancel his plan because the price tag was still too steep and his income made him indelible for federal subsidies.

“The price was something that I was not able to afford.” He continues to say that there’s a “gap that neither qualify for Medicaid nor get subsidies for private insurance. These people would really benefit from some government help as well.”

While Veloz points to a very true concern for some Americans, it is also true that a vast majority of people—nearly 90 percent—who have enrolled in a plan since open enrollment kicked off for the second time are receiving some government help to afford private insurance.

“I think insurance gives people access to a lot of basic resources. I’ve seen first hand what not having insurance does to a lot of people and families. To be able to have health insurance gives peoples the ability to be able to take care of the most important thing they have, their health,” Veloz admits.

To get answers to your enrollment questions, visit the “Find Local Help” section of healthcare.gov. You can #GetCovered before February 15 by visiting healthcare.gov to see your coverage options. 

Amir Salehzadeh is a reporter for Generation Progress. Follow him on Twitter @amirsalehzadeh.

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