A disturbing rise of uninsured rates in Texas


DFW Hospital Council President/CEO W. Stephen Love posted his latest blog in the July 19 edition of D CEO Healthcare.

Many improvements in the healthcare uninsured rates of U.S. citizens are beginning to erode, according to a Commonwealth Fund ACA Tracking Survey released this summer. Recent actions by Congress, the administration, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have further reduced healthcare coverage. We have stated these unacceptable numbers before, but they should be stated again. Approximately 4.5 million people in Texas have no health insurance, including 700,000 children, with our state continuing to lead the nation in both percentages and numbers. Our state is indeed “No. 1” in many surveys, but this ranking is unfortunate for all Texans.

More alarming news comes from a Commonwealth Fund survey estimating as many as five percent of insured adults will drop coverage once the repeal of the individual mandate’s penalty becomes effective next year. A series of actions in recent months, including the shortening of the enrollment period by half, reducing funds used in communications, and dramatically cutting the advertising budget related to enrollment have further contributed to increases in the uninsured.

Here’s a few more numbers for you. In 2016, the Federal Navigator Funding for Texas was $9.2 million, but reduced to $6.1 million the following year. We just learned last week the 2018 funding will be cut to $1.2 million. That is a staggering, 86-percent decrease. The Affordable Care Act created Navigator programs to provide outreach, education, and enrollment assistance to consumers eligible for marketplace and Medicaid coverage.

CMS says such reduced funding is justified because broker services overlap with Navigators in facilitating enrollment in the health insurance marketplace. Therefore, Navigators should be able to shift away from face-to-face consumer assistance. While there may be overlap, Kaiser Family Foundation surveys found that Navigators help almost exclusively the uninsured, participants who speak limited English, and people with no internet access. In addition, and perhaps just as importantly, Navigators offer education on the marketplace and eligibility assessments for completing applications for Medicaid and CHIP.

Brokers tend to mainly focus on insurance products rather than government programs.

You can read the full post here.