Despite continued fierce resistance from state leadership, people keep signing up for health insurance in Texas via the Healthcare.Gov exchange.
Enrollment in the federal health insurance marketplace continued to steadily climb in January, according to data the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Wednesday. In January, another 89,500 Texans selected a health plan on the insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, the department reported.
“Today’s enrollment figures are more proof that Texans are ready and willing to push past the barriers that Gov. Perry has put in the way of the new Health Care law,” Ginny Goldman, executive director of the Texas Organizing Project, which is assisting enrollment efforts across the state, said in a statement.
As of Feb. 1, the total number of Texans who have enrolled in a health plan jumped to 207,500 from 118,000 at the end of 2013. Across the nation, enrollment grew to 3.3 million, a 53 percent increase over enrollment in the previous three months.
“These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day, and finding quality, affordable coverage in the Marketplace,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.
Texas has been a priority state for enrollment efforts, said Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare Services, and they’re working closely with local organizations and government officials to assist enrollment efforts.
“A lot of the activities that we’re doing in Texas in particular, understandably, are focused on reaching citizens who speak both English and Spanish,” she said.
John Davidson, a health policy analyst at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, said enrollment was strikingly low, given the total number of uninsured Texans.
“In a state with more than 6 million uninsured, you would expect more than 207,546 people would have bothered to sign up after four months of open enrollment,” he said in an email. “This suggests that many Texans do not think the exchanges plans are all that good of a deal after all.”
But Phillip Martin, deputy director of the left-leaning Progress Texas, said that it took Texas four years, from 2006 to 2010, to achieve a similar spike in enrollment on its own — 232,000 children — in the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.
“In the past, it took years to see the kind of health coverage expansion in Texas we’ve seen in the last few months thanks to the Affordable Care Act,” he said in an email.
Davidson’s criticism is kind of hilarious. Why aren’t there more of those benighted suckers signing up for this horrible, fascistic failure of a system that’s totally going to doom us all to a fate worse than not having health insurance in the first place? Don’t you people listen to me when I tell you what’s good for you? Never mind all of the barriers that Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, Greg Abbott, and all the legislators that listen to people like Davidson put in place to keep millions of people off of health insurance. All these people that we’re prevented from getting health insurance still don’t have health insurance – see, it’s a failure, just like I said it would be!
Anyway. Davidson’s BS aside, the pace of enrollments in Texas mirrored the national trend, which showed stronger numbers in January than originally projected. Part of that is catchup from the first two months, but it’s still positive, and portends the likelihood that final signup numbers will be pretty close to what was expected in the beginning. Texas ought to exceed half a million, which is less than ten percent of our shameful total number of uninsured people, but will still be a half million more than Perry and his crew ever helped. And the push continues:
On Saturday, February 15, several community organizations will come together to host a bilingual community event to help Latinos learn about and enroll in new health care plans available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) . Attendees will learn about new insurance plans, discover what financial help may be available to them, and work with trained experts one-on-one to enroll on site.
The event, celebrating Heart Health, will be hosted by Dia de la Mujer Latina, a national nonprofit organization focusing on Latino health since 1997. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and Get Covered America will be providing an opportunity for many underserved populations to learn about insurance options and enroll. Certified ACA navigators will be on hand to provide in person assistance. On the day of the event, attendees interested in enrolling will need to provide an email address, social security number, proof of legal residency (residence card or citizenship certificate), and income verification in order to apply.
Most eligible, uninsured Latinos don’t know how the health care law will affect them. Fifty-three percent of Latinos in Harris County had no health insurance coverage at the time of the 2010 American Community Survey; and in the state of Texas, there are 5.7 million Latinos without insurance. This information session will better inform people in the community about their benefits under the Affordable Care Act.
That’s from a media advisory I got about an event occurring tomorrow at the Hiram Clarke Multi Service Center, 3810 West Fuqua, from 11 to 3. There are a lot of groups out there doing this hard work, all over Texas. Imagine what kind of results they could be getting if people like John Davidson would just get out of their way. Wonkblog and BOR have more.