Nacogdoches 20 year old encourages peers to sign up for insurance

Alex Rocha has lots of reasons to be insured. He's 23. He'll soon be a father. The SFA University accounting student was on his father's policy, but it was suddenly dropped a year ago.

"I was kinda worried that if anything were to happen I'd have to pay everything out of pocket," said Rocha.

Even so it wasn't until Rocha recently got a job signing people up for marketplace insurance did he obtain some for himself.

"I'll be able to go to doctor's visits. They'll be a lot affordable for me. It's only $35 for a doctor visit," shared Rocha.

The policy also pays for specialists, medication and emergency room visits for $26 a month.

Darla O'Neill's daughter is paying $3.50 a month for her coverage. A small price to pay for a mama's piece of mind.

"Private insurance was always unaffordable for her dad and I to put her on our insurance. It would have cost us a fortune every month," said O'Neill. "So we've rolled the dice all these years and gambled and hoped that nothing happened."

Certified application counselors work the phone to encourage customers in. Sometimes they come in on their own.

"Just this morning we had a young male come in with his mom. He's fixing to turn 27 and won't be able to be carried on her insurance anymore," said Kelly Searles, a counselor for East Texas Community Health Services. "Now he's signed up."

It happened just under the end to the March 31 open enrollment. Some people will be eligible to enroll after the March 31 deadline if they have extenuating circumstances. Otherwise, the next enrollment period isn't until November and it's already been extended into February.

Meanwhile, Rocha encourages his peers to take care of business.

"You just need to be motivated, I think, to go out and get it for yourself," said Rocha.

Younger enrollees typically have lower health care costs than older people. The marketplace insurance is relying on those customer's premiums to carry the program along.

The East Texas Community Health Services and some local hospitals continue to offer application counseling.