With Deadline Looming, Millions of Texans Still Uninsured

There are now just 14 days left to sign up for health insurance or pay a penalty. Many people have signed up but still millions of Texans remain uninsured.
By Michaela MacDonald
mmacdonald@klbk13.tv

LUBBOCK, TX -- March 31st is the last day for open enrollment on the online insurance marketplace.

"Once March 31st hit, the website shuts down. Unless you a qualifying event, very similar to medicare, the open enrollment is done," said Health Insurance Agent Kevin Van.

Van says if you want health insurance this year, you need to sign up soon.

"We've heard some people say well what is the incentive if you just wait til you get sick or wait til you get coverage and then sign up, well it doesn't quite work that way because if you get sick in June and you are outside the open enrollment period, unless there is a reason you will not be able to be accepted for coverage," said Van.

Van says they've seen a steady stream of people come in to sign up, but many of those were already insured.

"They were people who had coverage and they were able to get a subsidy from the government, so it was going to be a net less cost to them," he said. "As far as people that were uninsured, there's been a few of them but there hasn't been a lot of percentage as far, that I know of in west Texas that have done that. It was just people who already had coverage and needed to change over."

In the month of February nearly 90,000 Texans signed up for health insurance, but the state still has the highest percentage of uninsured in the country. Van says the penalty for not getting covered was too low to inspire sign ups. 

"It was under $100, so to be able to pay for health insurance every month if you really didn't want to have it, $100 probably was not going to be that much of a penalty. It would go up again  in another year, but in a few years it would actually take a percentage of your income. That would probably be an incentive to be able to make a difference for people," he said.

Van says he does not expect a huge influx of people coming in to get covered in the next few weeks.

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