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Get Ready Now: 6 Steps To Prepare For The Health Insurance Marketplace


Lace up your shoes and get ready to jump in — the health insurance marketplace opens in less than a month. And even though the details of the plans — or prices — available to Texans on the new site haven’t been revealed, you can still get a leg up by preparing early.

[More From KERA: Obamacare 101:How The Texas Health Insurance Marketplace Will Work]

  1. Learn about different types of health insurance. The alphabet soup of health insurance plans can be overwhelming. Find out the difference between HMOs, PPOs and high deductible health plans (HDHPs).
  2. Make a list of questions you have BEFORE it’s time to choose your health plan. For example, “Can I stay with my current doctor?” or “Will this plan cover my health care costs when I’m traveling?”
  3. Make sure you understand how insurance works, including deductibles, out of pocket maximums, copayments, etc. (See video below).
  4. Start gathering basic information about your household income. In Texas, an estimated 2.6 million people will be eligible for government taxcreditsto offset the cost of healthcare. You’ll need income information to find out how much you are eligible for.
  5. Set your budget. There will be health plans to meet a variety of budgets, breaking them down by what you can afford will make the selection process a lot easier.
  6. Find out from your employer whether they plan to offer health insurance, especially if you work for a small business. If your employer offers coverage, you can still choose another plan,but you may not be eligible for a break on costs.

*Resources from

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.