With time running out, companies and non-profits helping Texans enroll in health care


AUSTIN (KXAN) — As of right now, more people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act than this time last year even after the government nearly gutted the budget for marketing and process to help people sign up. Private companies and non-profits have stepped in to help fill that gap.

For Zach Morgan, playing the keyboard around town doesn’t come with employer-sponsored health care. “You’re out there on your own. I mean, you have teammates in your band members, but you’re on your own,” said Morgan.

With Morgan’s car in the shop, Monday, Morgan called on a Lyft driver to bring him to Foundation Communities. Lyft is partnering with the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians to bring people there free of charge, to sign up for coverage.

“It’s just peace of mind. In case anything happens, it’s there for me,” said Morgan.

Just last week, the Senate scrapped the measure requiring Texans to buy insurance. That mandate will likely be repealed.

“I think it’s the thing we need most in the country right now. Everybody is worried about their health care and their financial future of it,” said Debra McDiarmid of Lyft.

In Central Texas, Seton Healthcare Family, St. David’s HealthCare and Estes Audiology are doing their part in getting people enrolled. Lyft’s competition, Uber, has in-person enrollment help for their drivers. Elizabeth lvin from Foundation Communities says the private organizations are making a difference in Austin but don’t reach as well in the rural areas.

“Other parts of Texas, rural parts of Texas, don’t have the benefits that we do in Austin,” said Colvin, whose focus is getting more people in the door and enrolled before time runs out.

Foundation Communities says the organization has enrolled 3,000 people this season, which is nearly double the number from last year. Open enrollment continues until Dec. 15.

By the end of open enrollment last year, more than 1.2 million Texans had signed up for a plan. As of late November, the latest numbers released by the Center for Public Policy Priorities shows, only 334,000 Texans had signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act That is more to date than last year, which was around 220,000. Healthcare advocates say that’s because people might know the enrollment time is shorter and organizations have put more of an effort on signing people up.

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