Future of Obamacare will depend on how many people enroll

Rafael Torres said Obamacare got him through one of life's toughest moments. (KXAN Photo)
Rafael Torres said Obamacare got him through one of life's toughest moments. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Open enrollment begins Wednesday for insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Whether you’re on the federal marketplace or covered through an employer, Medicaid or Medicare, this year’s enrollment is already impacting your costs.

At this point, the future of Obamacare might not be decided in Congress, but by the people who enroll after Wednesday.

While Republicans didn’t end Obamacare, they did cut 90 percent of the funding for outreach and marketing. In order to keep enrollment numbers high, non-profit groups in support of the law ramp up for a few days, impacting the future of the law.

The Trump administration cut “cost-sharing subsidies,” which helped lower-income people pay deductibles and co-pays. Since insurance companies are no longer receiving them, they are raising your premiums to make up that loss.

Rafael Torres moves pretty slowly today but he’ll be the first to say he’s in better shape than he was this summer.

“When he said cancer I saw all my life passing in front of me. All my life,” said Torres. Surgeons removed a tumor from his spine in August. He had health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and the non-profit Foundation Communities helped him sign up.

“To say thank you, God, thank God, to be with me in the worst moment. Thank you the program of Obamacare,” said Torres.

Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett says the program is hanging on by a thread.

“But it will be there without doubt for this next year. That’s why everyone should enroll now. If they can point to the fact that people are not interested in the Affordable Care Act that would just be used to destroy it,” said Rep. Doggett, D-Austin.

Elizabeth Colvin from Foundation Communities says they doubled the amount of volunteer navigators from last year to 120. She says the Texas marketplace still has 4 insurance companies offering 33 different plans.

“The Affordable Care Act is still the law, financial help is still available,” said Colvin.

Just 6 percent of Texans buy their own insurance through Obamacare. For perspective, 49 percent of people in the state get insurance through an employer or family member’s job. More than one-in-four get it through Medicare and Medicaid. A full 15 percent  of Texans, more than 4 million people, still do not have insurance at all.

Conservative member of Congress have so far tried twice this year to repeal the law. However, despite an outrage of Republican voters, lawmakers have yet to deliver on a several year long promise.

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