Health experts urge Bexar Co. residents to sign up for Affordable Care Act

Open enrollment starts Tuesday

SAN ANTONIO – A contingent of health care experts joined Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro on Monday to urge Bexar County residents to enroll and re-enroll in Affordable Care Act health plans starting Tuesday.

The news conference, hosted by the EnrollSA coalition at the University of Texas at San Antonio's downtown campus, made no mention of ACA price increases.

The cost of premiums are expected to rise across the country, more than doubling in cities such as Phoenix, as more health-care providers drop out of the federal healthcare.gov exchange.

Ana Maria Garza Cortez, vice president of marketing and development for CentroMed, said Bexar County residents will not need to brace for a huge premium increase.

"They'd be surprised to find there are still some great plans to choose from," she said, pointing out that the marketplace in San Antonio still includes four healthcare providers offering more than 30 plans.

Garza Cortez said last year more than half of the 120,000 Bexar County residents who were eligible for coverage on the marketplace eventually signed up.

This year, she said, health officials are targeting so called "young invincibles," people younger than 35 who qualify for coverage but often do not sign up.

Garza Cortez pointed out a majority of people qualify for federal subsidies to help cover the cost of monthly premiums.

"We're trying to bring in the healthy people because it helps balance out the expense of everybody to get health coverage," Garza Cortez said.

In Phoenix, where a vast majority of health-care providers have left the exchange, premiums on some plans will more than double this year, according to the New York Times.

Open enrollment starts Tuesday and runs through the end of January 2017.

Information on the ACA Marketplace can be found here.

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