Houstonians anxious to see new health insurance plans under Affordable Care Act


Houstonians we talked to hope the plans are cheaper, but they're withholding judgment until they can actually see the details.

Hair stylist Carolle Balassi is self-employed. She pays $300 a month for her health insurance. But the deductibles are so high she rarely uses it. And she worries about her daughter.

"She's now 27 so she cannot be on any plan and can't afford it," Balassi said.

Tony Lacorte paid $800 a month in premiums for one person, until he became old enough for Medicare.

"Only way I could do it. I had no children, I missed out on a lot of things because that was a thing you had to have," Lacorte said.

Both are waiting to see what will be offered when the healthcare exchange goes online Tuesday.

"They have to have basic hospitalization, physician services, preventive care. Mental health vision services and dental services for children," said Dr. Charles Begley with the UT School of Public Health.

If you have good employer insurance, or are on Medicare, Dr. Begley says you don't need to do anything.

"People need to compare what they've got to what this new coverage is but it's primarily designed for people who don't have any coverage at all," he said.

The government says the lowest price for a single 27-year-old in Houston who makes $25,000 a year will be $81 a month. For a family of four who makes $50,000 a year, the lowest price would be $52 a month.

"I think it is a good thing because it will cover a lot of people who aren't covered now," said Dorothy Blackwell, a supporter of the Affordable Care Act.

Balassi worried about losing her choice of doctors and hospitals on the exchange.

"It's still very obscure. It could be nice for some people. For me, I don't know," she said.

So Balassi, like many self-employed Houstonians, is waiting for Tuesday, when they can finally see exactly what will be covered, and how much it will cost them.

Experts say you don't have to make a decision until December to qualify for coverage beginning January 1. You have until March 30, 2014 to sign up before getting a fine.

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13

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