East Texas response to ACA open enrollment 'slow and steady'

East Texas response to ACA open enrollment 'slow and steady'
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - At the stroke of midnight, hundreds of thousands of Texans will have coverage through the health insurance marketplace.

The Department of Health and Human Services released its numbers on Wednesday for the commonly referred to "Obamacare" care plans.

It's the first detailed analysis of the first month of open enrollment.

Marketplace advisors are surprised that 379,525 Texans selected plans through the health insurance marketplace in time for coverage to begin January 1st. Texas has the second highest number of enrollees of all the federally facilitated marketplace states.

"I'm not really encouraged by it because of the lack of expansion of Medicaid for the state of Texas," said Darla O'Neill, the director of the East Texas Community Health Center Marketplace.

Fifty-four percent signed up for the first time. Forty-six percent re-enrolled in a marketplace plan in 2015.

"It automatically enrolls you," O'Neill said.

Yet the marketplace office in Nacogdoches isn't always busy. Customers trickle in.

"It's been slow and steady," O'Neill said. "We've enrolled about 45 to 50 folks since open enrollment began, Oct. 15."

The numbers reflect a national trend. Nationwide 82 percent of new enrollees are from urban areas. Only 18 percent have rural zip codes.

"They just don't qualify for the marketplace, and when you get to Houston and Dallas and some of our big metropolitan cities where the incomes are higher, I think you're going to see more folks that do qualify and can get enrolled," O'Neill said.

The sign up deadline for plans beginning on Jan. 1, 2015 has come and gone, but consumers still have two more weeks to establish coverage to begin Feb. 1st. Marketplace offices will tell you if you're eligible for coverage, tax credits and financial assistance.

Here are some dates to keep in mind. Open enrollment in marketplace runs through February 15. Consumers already enrolled can shop to see if better plans exist. Another date to keep in mind is January 15. That's the deadline in order to have coverage effective on February 1.

A marketplace office can provide guidance or you can go to healthcare.gov to review health care options.

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