AUSTIN (KXAN) - Every year, 3,000 families walk into Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin for help. Many of those have no way to pay for their child’s treatment... without help.
"The most heartbreaking example is when cancer is found in a child. So to get the chemotherapy, to get that followup care, it could take a lot," said Kit Abney Spelce, insure-a-kid director.
Spelce deals mostly with low-income coverage like Medicaid and CHIP to make sure families have a way to pay.
"Today, a family may make a dollar more than the income eligibility requirements for CHIP, and we don't have a good option to tell them how to get health care and health insurance,” Spelce explained.
Starting Tuesday, the Affordable Care Act means those children will not have to go without coverage. But the challenge is directing their families to call 2-1-1 for a list of places for guidance and to healthcare.gov to sign up online by March 31.
"It will certainly be an interesting ride for all of us," said Bob Bonar, president and CEO of Seton Family of Hospitals, Dell Children’s parent company.
And until they know more, hospital officials have not made some changes - still expecting people without insurance to use the emergency room for primary care for a while.
"We didn't just run out and clear our emergency department,” said Bonar. “We've kept the staffing the same, until we see what happens in the marketplace."
Spelce agreed, saying, "A lot of us are setting our clocks to get online at 12:02 a.m. to see that launch and figure out those plans."
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