Will Texans' Demand For Health Insurance Outweigh Obamacare's Problems?

The launch day of the Affordable Care Act and the user has reached a page on Healthcare.gov which reads, "How do I get help in the Marketplace?" Photo by Lenard Smith
Texas health advocacy groups are reacting to the news that only a tiny fraction of the millions of uninsured Texans signed up for new Obamacare plans last month. The advocates blame Republicans here for their hostile rhetoric and the faulty website. The advocates think the demand for insurance is so great that more people will eventually sign up.

Of the more than 100,000 Texans who completed the application process, roughly 3,000 people actually signed up the first month.

Democratic state Rep. Chris Turner of Dallas serves on the Insurance Committee. He says that lawmakers passed up an historic opportunity to bring health insurance coverage to more than a million Texans, when the state turned down the Medicaid expansion.

"It could have been a unique Texas solution as Arkansas has done, there are a lot of ways we could have brought those federal dollars down to Texas. And the bottom line is the federal government would have paid 90 percent of the cost over the next decade, would have paid 100 percent of the cost the first two years. But unfortunately leaders like Gov. Perry, Lt. Governor Dewhurst and Attorney General Abbott said no."

Traditionally states oversee health insurance and respond to questions from consumers, but Turner says that's not the case in Texas, when it comes to the new Obamacare plan.

"There's no publicity, or outreach being conducted by TDI or any aspect of state government out of Austin. The exception being some of my colleagues in the legislature like myself, have worked to try to go around that and bring information directly to our constituents through town hall meetings and other outreach. But in terms of a concerted statewide effort to let people know what their options are, Governor Perry refuses to let that happen."

Tiffany Hogue with the Texas Organizing Project says her teams are not directly enrolling people, but they're definitely spreading the word about the federal website.

Marketplace shopper Amy Kamp filled out an application and says the process was easy.

"I had shopped for insurance in the past, and I have been denied because of a pre-existing condition. I have been relying on Planned Parenthood for my yearly checkups, and after the Texas Legislature removed Planned Parenthood from the women's health program, I haven't gotten my yearly checkup this year. And so I'm definitely looking forward to having insurance."

Meanwhile, the health insurance industry still reacting to the president's offer to reverse the millions of cancellations.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...