Let's Enroll: Open Enrollment in Health Insurance Exchanges Begins October 1

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The first step in getting 30 million more Americans insured was passing the Affordable Care Act. The next step was implementing a series of changes to level the playing field for different groups, like letting people under 26 remain on their parents' insurance, insuring children with pre-existing conditions, covering preventative health services for women and offering states a Medicaid expansion. Then it was time to set up the health insurance exchanges to create opportunities for Americans not covered by their employers or other programs like Medicaid to still have access to health insurance. Despite the best efforts from Rick Perry, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz and other Republican obstructionists to stop implementation, it's finally time to get the uninsured enrolled.

Open enrollment for the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins on October 1. In Texas, 4.9 million people will be eligible to compare prices and shop for insurance on the exchanges. But how many of them know this will even be an option?

Republican lawmakers working tirelessly and pointlessly to stop the Affordable Care Act from being implemented certainly aren't making any effort to ensure that their constituents understand their new options. But the word is getting out anyway, thanks to national and local efforts to get uninsured Americans covered.

Read more after the jump.Enrolling young adults is critical to the success of the health insurance exchanges in order to help offset the costs of caring for the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. But over fifty percent of 18 – 29 year olds are not even aware that the Affordable Care Act is still in place.

So now Affordable Care Act organizers are looking to the type of outreach that helped the Obama team win two elections – advanced micro-targeting paired with a strong ground game. Enroll America, with the help of a veteran Obama campaign data-cruncher, has developed a model that can predict with 99 percent accuracy whether someone already has health insurance. Organizers and volunteers with Enroll America will then be reaching out individually to the uninsured young adults in hopes of getting millions signed up, joined by groups like Planned Parenthood and MomsRising launching their own campaigns.

Get Covered America (a campaign run through Enroll America) will be working to spread the word around Texas about the benefits that will soon become available and how to take advantage of them. They launched their campaign at the Austin City Hall in June, and will be working with community and health centers and even going door to door to make Texans aware of their options. (You can sign up to volunteer to help here.)

For five years in the row, Texas has held the tragic distinction of having the highest uninsured rate in the country, with almost 30 percent of Texans uninsured. It is one of only four states that has seen increases in the uninsured rate every year since 2008. And Texas is already leaving $100 billion on the table by not expanding Medicaid. But on October 1, Texans will be able to enroll en masse in affordable health insurance plans, regardless of how uncooperative Texas lawmakers are – but it's incumbent on spreading the word.  

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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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