Unemployed Texans struggle to find affordable healthcare insurance

With more than one million Texans out of work, many families have lost their healthcare coverage, too.

Access to healthcare is critical, not only to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but for any other health emergency.

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If you lost a job along with your employer-paid healthcare, you can keep the same health plan under federal rules called COBRA, but it can be expensive.

Sudden job loss also qualifies you to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace within 60 days.  Nine in ten Texans with Marketplace coverage get subsidies to pay the premiums.

Families can also go to community health clinics.

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"The Texas Association of Community Health Care Clinic does an incredible job of doing what they can to serve uninsured Texans," said Laura Guerra-Cardus, Deputy Director of the Children's Defense Fund.

If your child does not have healthcare coverage, or you are a parent making less than $320 a month, you can apply for Medicaid and CHIP coverage. Call the United Way Helpline at 211 or go to www.YourTexasBenefits.com.

More than 50 Texas health policy groups are urging voters to ask Governor Abbott to expand Medicaid to cover 1.5 million more low-income Texans by increasing the income cap to $18,000 a year.

Said Guerra-Cardus, "We are one of the few states in this country where people that make lower wages don't have any option for healthcare coverage and this is about to be a problem for many, many more people."

However, the Texas Public Policy Foundation disagrees.
"Medicaid was created for the vulnerable, children, women, the elderly, the disabled. Bringing on a lot of able-bodied adults is going to crowd those folks out. We're already seeing a strain on Texas Medicaid," said David Balat with Texas Public Policy Foundation.

They say in addition to federally qualified health centers, there are many other low-cost options.

Said Balat, "There are other very affordable types of coverage like association health plans.  There are cost-sharing ministries and medical cost-sharing models."

Governor Abbott's office did not respond to our request for comment on the push to expand Medicaid coverage.

The following are more links to low-cost healthcare resources: