The insurance exchanges are coming. Whether we get some form of “Medicaid” expansion or not, this will be a key part of bringing health insurance to many currently uninsured Texans.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, the state’s largest health insurance provider, is launching a statewide campaign on Tuesday aimed at getting Texans enrolled in health plans through an online marketplace created by federal health reform.
Texas won’t have its own state-specific health insurance exchange; Republican leaders here have rejected that option as part of their opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
Blue Cross Blue Shield’s “Be Covered Texas” initiative aims to draw as many of the 6 million uninsured Texans as possible into a one-size-fits-all federal health insurance exchange, an Orbitz-style website where they can determine if they qualify for subsidized insurance or purchase private plans ahead of the 2014 deadline to carry insurance. Open enrollment begins in October.
“The Be Covered program is about converting the uninsured in our state to insured status,” said Bert Marshall, the company’s president. “It’s about getting educational materials in the hands of community partners and other people who may be influential to the populations that are currently uninsured.”
Blue Cross officials said that they were not sure how much the initiative would cost but that they would spend what it takes to reach out to every county in Texas. The company stands to benefit from the outreach; it will offer coverage through the exchange in addition to its current private insurance portfolio. But Marshall said that to the extent that the campaign can “significantly erode or eliminate the uninsured, that is a good thing for all Blue Cross members.”
Marshall said Texas’ decision — so far — not to design a state-based insurance exchange “creates a level of uncertainly for us, as all decisions are being made out of Washington, D.C.” He added that Blue Cross would like it if Texas embraced another aspect of the Affordable Care Act — accepting federal financing to expand Medicaid to cover more poor adults.
You and a lot of other people dude. BeCoveredTexas is not the exchange itself, as we won’t have one till the federal exchange is ready, it’s a guide for what to expect from the Affordable Care Act. Here’s its About statement:
Be Covered Texas is a grassroots campaign introducing uninsured Texans to the new health insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act. The campaign provides user-friendly information and on-the-ground guidance to help families understand the new health care law. We work with community-based organizations and partners large and small to reach people where they live, work, learn, worship, text and tweet. The campaign will join with partners to educate their members, to hold neighborhood events linking families to services, and to help Texans Be Covered.
Getting the word out about the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, especially to the population that will be eligible for subsidized coverage, is a huge and daunting task. As Wonkblog has pointed out, many of the potential beneficiaries of Obamacare are completely unaware of what their options will be and what is about to be available to them. Be Covered Texas, and every other organization that undertakes this task, has their work cut out for them.