Dec. 15 is the deadline to buy healthcare coverage on the healthcare exchange that begins on Jan. 1. To access policies that are available in Texas, visit If you miss the Dec. 15 deadline, you may still enroll until Jan. 31, but that coverage will not take effect until March 1.

Whether or not the Affordable Healthcare Act is repealed by the upcoming Congress, policies purchased on the exchange will remain in effect throughout 2017, because you and the insurance company are signing a one-year insurance contract.

If you would like to speak with a healthcare navigator who can walk you through the enrollment process, call the Community Council of Greater Dallas at 844-831-9600. While the increase in the cost of insurance has been well publicized, the average out-of-pocket increase for the consumer this year is $4 because policies purchased on the exchange are subsidized.

Those without health insurance may have to pay a penalty of $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater.