Fewer Than 3,000 Texans Enroll During First Month Of Obamacare Marketplace

The day one message on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace read, "Please wait."
Federal health officials have announced how many people so far have picked a new health plan under the Affordable Care Act. The numbers capture people who applied on paper and through the troubled website Healthcare.gov. How did uninsured Texans fared during the first month of enrollment?

Fourteen states set up their own insurance marketplace to sell Obamacare policies, but Texas was not one of them.

Texans had to use the federal marketplace, which has had a lot of technical glitches.

In the first month of enrollment, 54,000 Texans did manage to complete an application for new insurance.

But less than 3,000 of them actually picked out a plan.

Ron Cookston is with Gateway to Care, a nonprofit health collaborative here in Houston.

He says the Texas numbers are pretty good considering the problems with the website and the negative media coverage.  

“No one ever expected that this was going to happen immediately. It was always expected in the same way that other things rolled out, (like the) Children’s Health Insurance Program or Medicare Part D. All those enrollment processes began very slowly.” 

Cookston says he’s not surprised that lots of Texans have essentially finished the process, but still haven’t taken the final step of signing up with a particular insurer.

“This is a really important decision for people and we are finding in our experience that a lot of people are wanting to think about what alternatives they have.”

But a lobbyist for insurance companies has said the only number that counts is people who have actually picked a plan and paid the first month’s premium.

Without paying, those people could still back out and decide not to participate in the individual mandate next year. 

For the full enrollment numbers, visit this HHS link.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...