The enrollment period for the federal health insurance exchange ends Jan. 31. For many Texans who don’t get their insurance through an employer, this has been an affordable way to get a policy in the state for the past few years.
But if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, this could be the last year it’s an option.
Sarah Mealey, a self-employed house cleaner and single mother, was one of the first people to sign up for insurance through the marketplace.
“The minute it became available,” she says, “I got on Obamacare.”
This was the first time Mealey remembers ever having health insurance. She runs her own business, but doesn’t make enough money to pay for insurance on her own. When the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was passed, she thought she might finally have a shot at getting covered.
“I never thought that I would be able to afford health insurance, and I was really skeptical about the whole process,” she says. “And I’m like, ‘It’s going to be ridiculously expensive, I won’t be able to afford it.’”
But she was able to afford it. The way the marketplace works is that different insurance companies sell their plans directly to customers through an online system. Customers can shop around for a policy that works best for their needs and budget.