October 31, 2023
AUSTIN – Central Health, Travis County’s hospital district, once again reminds residents to take advantage of free local assistance to get health insurance for 2024. Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Health Insurance Marketplace begins today, Wednesday, Nov. 1, and runs through Jan. 15, 2024.
Travis County residents have several options for enrollment assistance, including:
- Calling 2-1-1 to connect with someone locally who can assist with the application process. The statewide 2-1-1 information line is operated by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
- Foundation Communities, Central Texas’ largest Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Navigator organization, is scheduling appointments through its Prosper Health Coverage program. Since 2014, Prosper has helped more than 45,000 Texans enroll in affordable health insurance plans. Visit foundcom.org/health-coverage or call the Prosper Health Coverage helpline at (512) 381-4520, or send a text to 737-209-6861, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sendero Health Plans, a local nonprofit health maintenance organization (HMO) owned by Central Health, is the only ACA Marketplace insurer based in Texas to have earned four stars – the highest rating – in CMS’s Nationwide Quality Rating System for the last three years in a row. Visit senderohealth.com or call 1-844-800-4693 to find out about Sendero’s offerings and how to enroll via the Marketplace.
After nearly a decade in effect, the ACA has helped bring the percentage of Americans without health coverage down to 8% according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2022 American Community Survey). In Texas, however, that percentage is more than doubled – 16.6%, or more than 4.8 million Texans, lack health coverage.
In Travis County, the Census Bureau reports that 10.8% of residents have no health coverage, a much lower rate than for Texas as a whole. This in part reflects the support the Marketplace has received in Central Texas from public, private, and nonprofit partners, including Central Health.
However, that still means more than 143,000 people in Travis County have no health coverage. These residents are concentrated in neighborhoods along and east of I-35; for example, in census tract 406 near Lamar Blvd. and Rundberg Lane, 33.4% of residents, or more than 1,300 people, are uncovered, according to the 2022 ACS data.
Central Health serves more than 150,000 Travis County residents through its Medical Access Program (MAP), MAP Basic, and sliding-fee-scale programs. These provide access to health care for those with the lowest incomes in Travis County. The hospital district also provides premium assistance for some Sendero customers, including members of the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) and the SIMS Foundation.
“Central Health is encouraging all Travis County residents who need health insurance to take advantage of the expert help available to assist them with finding the best insurance for them at the best price. Individuals already enrolled in a Marketplace plan should also review the new plans available. Plan prices have changed, and you may be able to find a comparable or better plan at a better price,” said Central Health’s Kit Abney Spelce, Vice President of Operations. “No one should delay – you only have about 12 weeks to apply, and we know the holidays are busy for everyone.” You must enroll in a Marketplace plan by Dec. 15 to start coverage on Jan. 1.
Learn more at centralhealth.net/map/aca-enrollment.