Texas has, reportedly, the highest number of medically uninsured people in the United States. But why, after the roll out of the Affordable Care Act, are there still a million Texans without health insurance? Even though the Affordable Care Act was supposedly designed to help the poor obtain affordable health insurance, there are some who are, in essence, "too poor" for its benefits and fall into what is called the coverage gap.
Because Texas is one of approximately half the states that has not expanded its Medicaid program to meet federal guidelines for the Affordable Care Act, it has created a crack, or coverage gap, through which some citizens have fallen. Low income families whose income falls just above poverty level are eligible to receive health insurance subsidies and families with extremely low income qualify for health insurance coverage under Medicaid guidelines.
Families whose income falls below the poverty line set by the federal government, yet exceeds stringent Medicaid guidelines, fall into the coverage gap and do not qualify for subsidized health insurance. View this chart to see how your family stacks up.
These folks will not be penalized for their lack of coverage but they are still responsible for all their medical bills. For the uninsured, hospital emergency room visits can sometimes be waived through charity care programs but doctor visits and elective hospital care are almost out of the question.
For the working, uninsured poor who see their neighbors who earn more than they do getting help with healthcare, the coverage gap can cause anger and unhappiness. Dozens of organizations have launched a campaign demanding something be done to help these uninsured. See Texas Well and Healthy as well as Texas Left Me Out for more information on the health insurance coverage gap. In the meantime, low income and uninsured Houston residents may be able to find health care at a number of clinics operating across Houston and Harris County.
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