How Do We Turn the Uninsured into the Insured in Texas?

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The Affordable Care Act will soon make a huge dent in Texas's staggering rate of 6 million uninsured, over 1 million of which are children. Since the hard part was of course getting the law passed, it's easy to underestimate the challenge yet to come – getting eligible Texans signed up.

Non-profits and advocacy organizations have stepped up to take on this challenge at a national level, as well as in some states. Enroll America and Get Covered America, for instance, are working to raise awareness of the ACA in order to get the $50 million uninsured Americans insured.  But what about in Texas specifically?

A bill in the legislature this session (HB 459) authorizes an ACA Navigator program in state law to coordinate with the federal-level program, which will be ramping up soon.  Navigators provide in-person assistance (beyond the existing networks of community health centers, insurance agents and other health organizations) to help uninsured people understand what they're eligible for and get them signed up.

According to Stacey Pogue from the enter for Public Policy Priorities,

“Three of four people who will be eligible for coverage through the new Marketplace say they want in-person assistance to help to learn about and enroll in coverage.  Navigators will help meet this increased demand for in-person enrollment assistance and can tailor outreach efforts to Marketplace enrollees who are lower income, less educated, more likely to be uninsured, more racially and ethnically diverse, and more likely to speak a foreign language than people who are insured today.”

In addition to hopefully getting a state-level Navigator program, it'll be interesting to see what emerges in Texas to make sure that enormous share of uninsureds are actually taking advantage of what will soon be available – especially given the Governor's resistance to the ACA.

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About Author

Emily Cadik

Emily is a Texas ex-pat and proud Longhorn living in Washington, DC, where she remains connected to the Lone Star State through her work on BOR and her enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. She works on affordable housing policy, and writes about health care, poverty and other social justice issues.

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