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Valley Woman Concerned Over Rising Health Costs

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MCCOOK – Health insurance prices are going up and a McCook woman with heart disease is worried about whether she can keep hers.

Cheryl Keys said her premiums for 2018 may be out of her reach.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance prices are going up as much as 45 percent. Jason Lester, spokesperson at an Edinburg Obamacare Enrollment Center, told CHANNEL 5 NEWS premiums in the Rio Grande Valley are going up on most policies.

Keys said she already pays $296 a month for her individual health insurance policy. She found out that it will cost her more next year.

Keys said her husband has his own insurance through his work. She's had her own policy for years although her husband's income supports the household.

"I don't work because I have to be available for my son. He's disabled and living in a group home. So whenever the need arises, I have to be able to go and work isn't conducive to that," said Keys.

Keys battles heart disease and recently found out she was diabetic. These health problems add to her household expenses.

"When I go to the doctor now, any blood work, any lab work done, I have to pay out-of-pocket because the insurance doesn't cover that. It goes towards our deductible and that's $7,000 a year," she notes.

Keys might have to make a drastic move with her insurance this year if she cannot afford premiums.

"I'd probably just do without insurance and go just from doctor visit to doctor visit. And, if something major happened then we'd have to figure out how to deal with it," she said.

The Obamacare Enrollment Center is privately owned.  Lester blames the Trump Administration's Executive Order on health care.

"Since that was signed away, the insurance companies, they had to figure out how to make up that money that was being lost. So what they did was they increased the premiums," said Lester.

Lester said the Valley has a lot of lower-income families and paying high premiums is difficult. He said there is hope for them through tax credits.

"Once they increased the premiums, what happened is they turned around and the subsidies increased as well," he adds.

Lester said the new laws are confusing for most and he does the best he can to explain them. He adds subsidies could offset the rising price of insurance premiums for next year.

Keys said she is planning to stay insured just as long as she can afford it.

Open enrollment for 2018 starts Wednesday and will run until Dec. 15. 

According to healthcare.gov, after the open enrollment period, someone generally can enroll in a health insurance plan, but this is only if you qualify for a special enrollment period.

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