Insurance Laws in Texas: Healthcare to Auto

On this page, which should be updated frequently, we’ll cover insurance requirements from automobiles to healthcare. We want to begin with healthcare and note that perhaps the most important thing to realize is that there’s plenty of free and low cost programs paid for with taxpayer money that people with no (or limited) healthcare insurance may or may not know about. Many of these programs will only be known by their physicians so those that qualify may not realize this.

Table of Contents

Health Insurance

Beginning with Health Insurance, we’ll explore the resources that are available for you at different levels of Government. As we noted above, perhaps the most striking thing about the laws surrounding healthcare is that oftentimes money is appropriated at the federal level for programs that citizens of the state do not know about. First, remember that the deadline to signup for open enrollment in the healthcare.gov enrollment period is November 1st.

Healthcare Questions

Given the confusion over health insurance plans and the complexity of the U.S. healthcare system, we’ve decided to make this page an active running repository of current laws but also questions about Texas healthcare laws as they change and adapt.

This page was last updated on October 20th, 2021.

How does one get insurance?

In Texas, one either gets insurance through their employer (which they are required to provide to full-time employees), through their university or government exchanges. Previously if one was not employed, one would buy health insurance through a private company that would write them a private plan to fit their needs. After the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care, most private plans have given way to government exchanges found at health.gov.

Very important to note, you can only get health insurance during the open enrollment period which ends on November 1st of each year. After that, the only way to get insurance in most cases is to get a job with health benefits, to get married, or to get fired which would serve as a qualifying event.

You can also get insurance by being added to your parent or spouse’s plan. If you are a child or are seeking to add a child to your existing healthcare plan, then you may do so until they turn 26. The cutoff is one year earlier, twenty-five, for grandchildren you’re looking to add to your plan.

Is Mental Health Covered By Insurance?

Long sought by advocates of mental health, a 2008 law required mental health coverage to be on par with coverage of physical disabilities. However, studies have shown that very few people seem to know that such a law exists and therefore do not know they can request it. To see if mental health is covered by your plan, look at your policy to find out.

Healthcare Resources

Perhaps the most unknown feature of the healthcare system is that all three levels of government (Federal, State, and Local) have programs that might be able to help you. With that in mind, we’ve broken down potentially helpful resources into three categories. Note that it is completely possible that any (or all) of these resources might have helped your specific condition.

Federal Resources

Federal resources are those that the federal government provides for any U.S. Citizen. There are numerous programs at the level of the federal government that are not contingent on you living in any particular state. Two key groups that are usually covered by federal programs are military veterans and those 65 years of age and older.

For Military Veterans

Among the Federal resources, we most want to highlight that we now have the potential to help those in need. The Military Veterans

If you’re a military veteran in Texas or anywhere in the U.S. and need healthcare support, try the department of U.S. veterans affairs. I know the news has portrayed the VA as one of the most inept organizations in the country, but they are there to help you.

Phone: 877-222-8387

Website: va.gov

Medicare Help

A plan mostly for people 65 and older, Medicare.gov is going to be the most relevant resource if your questions or concerns with your healthcare coverage involve your medicare plan.

Phone: 800-633-4227

Website: medicare.gov

State Resources

CHIP:

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Provides health care to children of families who earn too much money for Medicaid but can’t afford health insurance.

877-KIDS-NOW (543-7669)
chipmedicaid.org

Medicaid (administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission): State/federal health insurance program for low-income Texans
Phone: 800-252-8263
Website: dshs.texas.gov

Texas Health Steps: Provides medical and dental checkups and care to children from birth to age 21 who are on Medicaid


877-THSTEPS (847-8377)

Local Resources

Local resources may include things such as food delivery services and various free in-person screenings that may be a result of private or public funding.

County Indigent Health Care Program Provides health care services to eligible residents through the counties, hospital districts, and public hospitals in Texas.

Phone: 512-776-6467
Website: www.dshs.texas.gov/cihcp

Hill-Burton Program: Federally funded program that contracts with local hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes to provide free or low-cost care to individuals eligible because of income. Services vary by provider and may not be available in all areas.

Phone: 800-638-0742

Website: Hrsa.gov

Auto Insurance

Automobile insurance is a completely different type of insurance but we’re going to put it on this page for the sake of clarity and the amount of overlap between the fields. Most importantly we’ll keep track of what’s required and what is not required as part of Texas state motorist laws. The one thing we’ll point out here (see what’s not required), is that Texas currently has no underinsured motorist coverage law. See below for an explanation of what that even means and what states do require it.

Required Vehicle Insurance (in Texas)

Three types of insurance are required if you want to legally drive in the state of Texas. Your insurance provider will lump these together but you should know what they are. The three that are required are Bodily Injury Liability Insurance, Property Damage Liability, and Personal Injury Protection Insurance. These cover the exorbitant costs that one can incur when driving a 3,000-pound vehicle that can exceed 100 MPH.

Bodily injury liability

Bodily injury liability is required in the state (if you want to drive). Bodily injury liability insurance covers the costs if you injure someone else in an accident and they need emergency services or healthcare services. See this article for a full explanation of what is covered by Allstate. They give a pretty good overview of what is meant by the term.

Texas Minimum Personal Liability Insurance Minimum: $30,000

Property Damage Liability

As we discussed above, insurance requirements are a way of guaranteeing to the state that drivers will be able to compensate others for the damage they cause in an accident. Considering the size and velocity that cars can travel, the state must insure against not just the hitting of other people but also buildings and infrastructure. This is where Property Damage Liability comes in.

Texas minimum coverage: $25,000

Personal Injury Protection

Perhaps the one most people will be familiar with as it is mandatory in no-fault states. This type of insurance, also referred to as PIP, covers everything from medical costs, rehabilitation, the loss of earnings one incurs from the accident and even the funeral expenses should the accident result in a fatality. In some states, PIP includes essential services such as child care.

What’s Not Required (as of 2019)

We’re working to get this updated to 2021 just to make sure, but the following are two very common types of motor vehicle coverage that are required in other states that are not required in Texas.

MedPay

First-party (policyholder) medical expenses. This is only part of statewide insurance policies in Maine and Wisconsin.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Something you might be expecting that Texas has no requirement for is Underinsured Motorist coverage. According to Investopedia, underinsured motorist insurance is a type of coverage some states allow if it “provides protection in case of an accident in which the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all damages.”

Unlike MedPay, many states utilize under-insured insurance just in case you are hit by a motorist who is not insured. Those states that do have such coverage are the states: Connecticut, D.C., Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New England, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, San Diego, Vermont, and Virginia.

Auto Insurance Rates By State

Michigan has the highest rates for auto insurance, with drivers paying an average of $5,282 a year for minimum coverage. Iowa has the cheapest auto insurance; drivers in the state pay just $357 a year on average for minimum coverage. Check out the table below to see how average auto insurance premiums in your state compare to those in other states and the national average. States are ordered from most to least expensive.

How Cities Impact Auto Insurance

Something to keep in mind is that changes in minimum state requirements on auto insurance are not just impacted by the state but also the city. A terrific article on auto insurance rates shows how different the average premium can be based on the city. Population and density can play major roles in the cost of auto insurance in the city.