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White House Pushes Dallas Residents To Sign Up For Health Care

The White House is challenging Dallas to beat out 19 other communities in reducing the number of people without health insurance. If the city wins, it would get a visit from the President. The deadline to sign up for 2016 health insurance plans on is Dec. 15th. 

White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough says Dallas officials have done a great job getting the word out about signing up for health insurance. But, in Dallas and the surrounding region, there are 446,000 people who don’t have insuranceand are eligible for the Marketplace. 

“Three years into this we are down to the harder cases, people who we have to find who didn’t go out and sign up the first two years," McDonough says. "So, what we did is challenged those communities that have done an effective job but still have some work to do.”

About 19 percent of Texans have no health insurance, which is actually an improvement for the state. More than 1 million Texans signed up for health insurance on the exchange last year, according to federal data. McDonough says there are affordable plans available for 2016.

“There’s a good opportunity here. 73 percent of people in Texas can find a plan for $75 a month or less in 2016. And people who switch their plans on can save on average $53 a month by shopping for a new more affordable plan,” he says.

Still, McDonough acknowledges consumers in Texas will see fewer plans this year that let them use doctors and hospitals out of network. Most notably, Blue Cross Texas stopped offering its PPO.

Tuesday, December 15th is the deadline for uninsured Texans to enroll through the health care marketplace if they want new coverage to start on New Year’s Day.

You can learn more about the "Healthy Communities Challenge" by clicking here

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.