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Two weeks remain for Texans to enroll in Affordable Care Act plans that start Jan. 1

A male doctor looks inside the throat of a 6-year-old boy with curly blond hair.
Eric Risberg
Jan. 15 is the final deadline to get health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act for 2022.

Texans looking to sign up for health insurance on the online marketplace,created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, have more options and cheaper plans to choose from during the 2022 enrollment period that began Nov. 1.

Stacey Pogue, a senior policy analyst with the progressive non-profit organization Every Texan, explains the federal government allocated additional money this year to temporarily lower costs as part of emergency pandemic relief funding in the American Rescue Plan.

"In fact there are millions of people who qualify for zero-dollar premium plans — no cost per month — and very low deductibles and that's because Congress made coverage much more affordable earlier this year," she said.

According to the Episcopal Health Foundation based in Houston, there are also more insurance companies offering plans in Texas on the marketplace than ever before.

"There are 15 different [insurance] companies offering plans this year and that's up from 10 last year," said EHF president and CEO Elena Marks.

She added the Biden administration is providing more time to sign up for plans this year after the Trump administration had previously reduced the length of enrollment periods to roughly 6 weeks. Jan. 15 is the final deadline to get coverage for 2022.

Marks cautioned, though, that people seeking a full year of coverage need to sign up sooner.

"For those who want to be covered, though, by Jan. 1, they need to enroll by Dec. 15,” said Marks “because there's always a little bit of lag time, a couple of weeks until your policy is in effect."

Organizations across Texas are offering free, local assistance to help people sign up for insurance plans on Texas continues to have the highest rate and number of uninsured residents in the United States.

Joseph Leahy anchors morning newscasts for NPR's statewide public radio collaborative, Texas Newsroom. He began his career in broadcast journalism as a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio in 2011. The following year, he helped launch Delaware's first NPR station, WDDE, as an afternoon newscaster and host. Leahy returned to St. Louis in 2013 to anchor local newscasts during All Things Considered and produce news on local and regional issues. In 2016, he took on a similar role as the local Morning Edition newscaster at KUT in Austin, before moving over to the Texas Newsroom.