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MLK Day Events Around Texas Focus on Health Insurance Enrollment

by: Emily Cadik

Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 00:00 PM CST

While communities came together yesterday to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., organizers around the country and in Texas made sure health care justice was part of the agenda.

In Austin, Get Covered Texas (the Texas branch of the national enrollment advocacy group Get Covered America) had organizers at the MLK Austin March, and in Houston there were organizers at two Martin Luther King Day parades. Volunteers also covered the Chevron Houston Marathon with the slogan "Run that Next Mile with Health Insurance."

"On a day when Texans will think about one of the nation's great leaders for social justice and change," Get Covered America said in a statement, "local volunteers will share the news that new health insurance options along with financial help to pay for it is available to thousands of uninsured Texans, representing a big step forward for health care justice."

Read more after the jump.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reinforced this message last week, urging that the sense of community inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. Day be a time to reach out on the Affordable Care Act:
"As we celebrate the inspirational life of Dr. King, please join us in this historic effort by helping your friends, neighbors, and loved ones get covered through the Marketplace... Dr. King memorably described inequality in health care as the 'most shocking and inhumane' form of injustice. These words continue to resonate, as there is nothing more essential to opportunity than good health."

A recent survey from Get Covered America showed that a lack of awareness and understanding about the Affordable Care Act has been the main barrier to enrolling in health insurance plans in the federal marketplace - not the previous technical problems with the system or the affordability or coverage of the plans themselves. It underscores the importance of community events like these that provide direct outreach to often hard-to-reach groups to let them know that there are plans that will actually be affordable to them if they take the time to enroll.

Get Covered America posted photos and stories from MLK Day events nationwide on Twitter, including events in Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the one below (and pictured at left) from Austin:

     @JBarbaBrown: Getting ready to hit the streets in Austin with @GetCoveredTX #GetCovered

Though close to 500,000 Texans have applied for health insurance plans since October, there are millions more who are eligible and who now have less than 2.5 months to enroll. Making these personal connections in the coming months will be the deciding factor in determining whether Texas can make an even more significant dent in its staggering uninsured rate.  

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