DALLAS — Texas has long been a standout when it comes to health insurance – and not in a good way. This state has perennially led the country with the highest percentage and the highest total number of uninsured people.
That distinction probably isn’t changing anytime soon, but Texas is standing out in a different way now—with a huge increase in the number of people who just signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Open enrollment just ended and sign-ups in this state are off the chart.
A record 2,410,810 Texans got coverage this time through the ACA. That’s almost a 31% increase from the last enrollment period a year earlier. And to put that 31% Texas surge into perspective, this was a record year for signups nationwide, but numbers for the whole country were up just more than 12%.
How affordable is the Affordable Care Act for Texans who just signed up?
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as of the reporting period for the week just before open enrollment ended in mid-January: “The average monthly premium in Texas was $581. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, average monthly Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) in Texas was $514 bringing the average monthly premium after APTC to $66.”
Enrollment is closed now, but you can still sign up if you have special circumstances, and in the next several months we might see an unprecedented number of people who fit the special circumstance of losing their current coverage.
Many Texans could lose health insurance in the months ahead
Here’s why: During the pandemic, the federal government wanted to keep as many people insured as possible, so the U.S. government has been giving states enhanced funding. The only catch to get the extra money: States had to agree not to kick anyone off Medicaid through the end of the pandemic. Well, we’re getting there.
Starting in April, states can begin the process of removing people from Medicaid and CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) if states determine they no longer qualify.
Those who get disenrolled from Medicaid or CHIP in the months ahead may be able to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act because of their special circumstance of losing coverage, but they would only have a limited time to sign up for an insurance plan under the ACA.
Upper estimates say this could affect as many as 14 to 15 million Americans. We don’t know how many Texans are vulnerable to being disenrolled, but at last count, there were 5,712,355 Texans on Medicaid and CHIP.
What to do if you are on Medicaid or CHIP to verify your eligibility
In the months ahead, the state will be checking the eligibility of people receiving Medicaid or CHIP benefits. Be sure to look for correspondence from the state by mail, email, or text, depending on how they have communicated with you in the past. You can also be proactive, and go online to verify your eligibility. Click here for more advice from the state.