October 25, 2013
Central Health welcomed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the CommUnityCare East Austin Health Center today. Secretary Sebelius spoke with several Central Texans who have successfully enrolled in a health plan as a result of the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace. She also observed some of the local education and outreach programs being led by Central Health and other community partners to help area residents understand the new law.
“I work for a small, locally owned business here in Austin that does offer health insurance, and they even offered to pay half of it, but it was still beyond what I could afford. I was actually able to enroll online and the plan was way cheaper. My employer was still happy to pay their half, so it worked out great for both of us,” Kat Richards, a resident of Austin, said. “Now I don’t have to live in fear. A serious accident or illness could bankrupt me for life and put real burden on my family. I think this is all great,” she added.
During the course of Secretary Sebelius’s visit, another local Austinite successfully enrolled with live assistance from a Certified Application Counselor at CommUnityCare East Austin. According to CommUnityCare staff, he qualified for a fully subsidized plan, meaning he will not have to pay a monthly premium.
“Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation. Secretary Sebelius’s visit with Central Health and CommUnityCare highlights the critical work of Central Health and our partners here in Travis County to educate Central Texans about the opportunities for better health care and health coverage offered by the Affordable Healthcare Act,” Central Health President and CEO Patricia A. Young Brown said.
To date, Central Health has committed $1.1 million for local Marketplace awareness education, outreach, and enrollment efforts. A total of $300,000 was awarded to the United Way for Greater Austin to engage three local agencies – Foundation Communities, Austin Interfaith, and Latino Healthcare Forum – to conduct education and outreach projects. An additional $472,000 enables Sendero Health Plans, Central Health’s affiliated HMO, to expand its marketing and enrollment efforts for its own IdealCare health plans, a Qualified Health Plan under the ACA. Most recently, $350,000 was approved by the Central Health Board of Managers to fund a new education campaign targeting low-income, uninsured Travis County residents. It’s expected this campaign will launch in mid-November.