Texans are not flocking to buy health insurance under Obamacare, ahead of today's deadline to buy coverage on the balky 'exchange' and have it go into effect January first, like the law plans will happen.
According to the latest figures released by the Department of Health and Human Services, only 14,000 Texans had successfully enrolled for insurance coverage through the end of November. There are an estimated 300,000 people without insurance coverage in Bexar County alone.
Jose Ibarra, who is with 'Enroll America,' the non profit agency tasked with helping people sign up in the exchanges, says a big problem is, despite the tons of publicity over the last two years, many of the uninsured are unaware of the Affordable Care Act.
"The top two questions we're finding that folks do not know is, one, what is the bill, and, two, where can I go to enroll?" Ibarra told a seminar sponsored by UTSA.
Local agencies which help people get insurance under the plans expect to have a busy two days, and many have added operators to help people sign up on the phone. Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Texas, for example, says it has added 500 customer service representatives.
Ibarra says a big problem with the law is that people who are in the United States illegally are specifically prohibited from signing up for Obamacare. That was written into the law which it was passed in 2010, and a significant number of the 300,000 uninsured in Bexar County are thought to fall into that category.
He says even though the undocumented themselves are ineligible for Obamacare, Enroll America is contacting them anyway.
"For a lot of these families, although the parents may not qualify under the marketplace, their children may qualify for an insurance plan under the marketplaces," he said.
Today is not the deadline to enroll in Obamacare, only the deadline to enroll to guarantee coverage by January 1. Open enrollment will continue through March 31.