On October 1 – three weeks from today – Americans will be able to shop for health insurance in exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act. Five million previously uninsured Texans will have an unprecedented opportunity to access coverage. In a state with the highest uninsured rate in the country, enrolling these Texans is not just about the health of the uninsured, but the health of the state.
But 43 percent of uninsured Americans still haven't heard about the exchanges. It's not surprising, since around four in ten Americans either think the ACA has been overturned or aren't sure. The ACA has overcome its share of obstacles in becoming law. But now the main thing that will stand between the uninsured and health care coverage is a lack of information.
Read about recent efforts to get Texans enrolled after the jump.As part of “Get the Word Out Weekend,” volunteers from Enroll America spread the message at barbershops, farmers markets, community events, residences and by phone this past Saturday and Sunday. Enroll America is one of many organizations stepping up to make sure Americans know what their options are, and in the largest grassroots effort yet, over 1,000 volunteers participated in more than 200 events around the country this weekend to raise awareness about the health insurance marketplaces.
In a Saturday forum at the University of Houston sponsored by Enroll America, the Texas Organizing Project, the Children's Defense Fund and UH's Center for Children Law and Policy, hundreds of Houstonians turned out to learn about the new options available under the ACA and how to connect to community health care navigators.
There were also thirty in-store events at CVS this weekend, and there will be close to 400 through November in ten cities, including Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. According to Enroll America, CVS found that 45 percent of the attendees at these events were uninsured.
We can expect that word of mouth will be powerful once the uninsured begin accessing health care. But without the right information in the right hands, it could take additional months or years to get the uninsured enrolled. Events like these are important for building a critical mass of enrollees to help spread the word about the exchanges early on and make sure that Texas takes advantage of this opportunity to finally bring down its shameful uninsured rate.