A total of 734,000 Texans purchased health insurance through the federal Marketplace from October 1, 2013 to April 19, 2014, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Despite state leaders’ opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 439,000 Texans selected a private plan in March and April, compared to 295,000 prior to March 1.
The results show that the ACA is effectively providing Texans with affordable insurance but that more work is needed.
“Texas has made more progress on affordable health insurance in the last six months than in the last decade,” said Stacey Pogue, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a member of the Texas Well and Healthy coalition. “Nonetheless, when we look at other states that took an ‘all hands on deck approach’ to helping people enroll, we know that Texas could do much more. Texas needs to get serious about making sure families have the insurance they need to stay healthy and financially stable. Too many Texans are still one illness or one accident away from going bankrupt.”
Betsy Furler, a mother and speech therapist in Houston, is one of the eight million Americans who now has private insurance thanks to the ACA.
“After worrying about insurance for years, I was thrilled to buy coverage in the Marketplace for my whole family,” said Ms. Furler. “My son is now insured, and our premiums are half of what they used to be. I no longer have to take a job just for the insurance, so I’ve been able to start my own small business.”
BACKGROUND ON HEALTH CARE COVERAGE NUMBERS
- Eight-four percent of Texans who signed up also received financial assistance, lowering their monthly costs.
- Thirty percent of Texans who selected insurance plans through the Marketplace were 18-34 years old.
- Approximately six million Texans were uninsured in 2012. With 25 percent of the state uninsured, Texas has the worst rate in the nation.
- About half of the state’s one million uninsured children and teens are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
- More than one million Texas adults are in the Coverage Gap. Their jobs do not provide insurance, but their income is not high enough to qualify for assistance in the Marketplace. The Texas legislature can provide insurance to Texans in the Coverage Gap by accepting federal health care funds.
BACKGROUND ON CONTINUING ENROLLMENT
- Individuals who have a “qualifying life event,” such as the loss of a job or birth of a child, may apply for insurance at any time. The next open enrollment period starts again on November 15 for coverage beginning on January 1, 2015.
- Pregnant women, as well as children and teens from low- to middle-income families, may enroll year round in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There is no deadline to enroll in those programs.