Simply put, Foundation Communities’ Health Coverage team is on a mission to simplify health insurance enrollment for clients, and to enroll many more clients. “This is a really big year for the Marketplace in Texas because we have more providers, more plans, and more financial assistance than ever before,” said Aaron DeLaO, Director of Health Initiatives for Foundation Communities.
The Open Enrollment period is the only time of year people can change their health plan unless they have a qualifying life event such as moving, getting married or having a baby. Open Enrollment started on November 1 and will end on January 15. That represents an extra month our Health Coverage Team will have to get people signed up. At an Open Enrollment Kickoff at the Prosper Center South on November 8, Foundation Communities and elected officials announced more changes.
“We’re also really excited that we’re gonna be welcoming clients back into our Prosper Centers for in-person appointments, though we will still maintain telephone appointments for people who want those,” said Foundation Communities Deputy Executive Director Julian Huerta. “We are extending our outreach to 12 counties in Central Texas, and we’re stepping up outreach in communities that have high numbers of uninsured folks, because always our goal is to simplify the process of signing up for health insurance so that people can stay healthy and have the peace of mind that comes with having health insurance.”
The expanded outreach is largely due to Foundation Communities being awarded a three-year, $3 million grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It’s part of a renewed emphasis on the Affordable Care Act by the Biden Administration. The American Rescue Plan enacted earlier this year significantly increases both the amount of financial help available to lower monthly premiums through the HealthCare.gov Marketplace, and the number of people who qualify for it.
Congressman Lloyd Doggett said, “A significant number of people will find that for the first time, they will pay no premium at all to get the coverage that they need, because we’ve tried to improve and strengthen the Affordable Care Act coverage for many working families who are economically disadvantaged.”
Doggett said his number one priority is to end Texas’ run as the most uninsured state in the country. Austin Mayor Steve Adler echoed that sentiment. “Twenty-one percent of Texans live without any form of health insurance, and that is criminal, criminal in a day like we have here today. Especially after we’ve seen the importance of access to health care in our community as we’ve gone through this past pandemic,” said Adler. “There are 162 plans to choose from (in Travis and Williamson Counties) and Foundation Communities can walk anybody through what is not a terribly complicated process.”
“Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege,” said Austin Council Member Greg Casar. “And, it is days like this, and organizations like Foundation Communities that make that right real for people.”
The Kickoff opened with a performance from Austin musicians Alejandro Rios and Roddrinskee “DRINT” Johnson. Later, Rios took center stage to talk about how the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) and Foundation Communities helped him get coverage for surgery on a spinal cyst that threatened to leave him paralyzed. Rios encouraged everyone to sign up for Marketplace health coverage. “I’m excited to be doing another year. This is the time to sign up, while it’s hot,” said Rios.
“What many of our neighbors don’t realize is that musicians that make this the Live Music Capital of the World, just like Alejandro and DRINT, are basically small businesses,” said Doggett. “And, if they had to go out and get health insurance on their own, it might be prohibitively expensive for their business. But, through HAAM, and through Foundation Communities, and through the Affordable Care Act, they can get the coverage that they need to continue performing.”
Anyone in the state of Texas can schedule a health coverage appointment with Foundation Communities by calling 512-381-4520, or by signing up at ProsperHealthCoverage.org. Enrollment assistance is available in many languages.