In addition to claiming nearly 50,000 lives in Texas, COVID-19 has resulted in job loss for thousands more. Along with a loss of income, many of these Texans lost their health insurance coverage. But a collaborative is stepping up to provide short-term assistance to those in need of coverage. The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, and the Dallas County Enroll North Texas ACA Coalition have launched the North Texas Healthcare Coverage Collaborative (NTHCC) to provide financial assistance to help purchase coverage.
Texas leads the nation in uninsured individuals and in the percentage of uninsured and is one of 12 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid, despite bipartisan public support and research showing the expansion would save the state money. There have been pleas from hospitals and lawmakers alike to expand coverage, but the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature has shown little interest. Health insurance coverage encourages regular medical attention that reduces high-cost hospitalizations.
Medical bills are also the number one cause of bankruptcies in the United States, with one study suggesting that 62.1 percent of bankruptcies surveyed were caused by medical issues. Another survey from the Commonwealth Fund found that a quarter of people aged 19–64 who reported medical bills could not afford rent, food, or other needs.
“This program is a piece of evidence to show that we need good insurance coverage for people in the state of Texas,” says Steve Love, president, and CEO of the DFW Hospital Council. “With us leading the nation in the uninsured, for us having many of the problems that we have, where people show up in emergency rooms because they don’t have coverage, I think there’s a lot of evidence already there to underscore the need behind why we should expand coverage within the state of Texas.”
NTHCC will leverage its partnerships to identify individuals who have become recently unemployed and lost their employer-sponsored health insurance due to COVID-19. Once an individual is identified, the organizations will work with them to purchase coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace, paying $150 to $300 per month for bronze or silver plans on the marketplace.
The program has arranged for a special enrollment period that runs until August 15. Funds collected will be used to provide three months of assistance to those who qualify in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties.
The W.W. Caruth, Jr. Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas, Medical City Healthcare, and Methodist Health System have also contributed to the fund at $200,000, $100,000, and $25,000, respectively. “Increasing the number of North Texans with comprehensive healthcare coverage improves access to timely, medically necessary healthcare services,” said Erol Akdamar, president of Medical City Healthcare via release.
“For over 93 years, Methodist Health System has been committed to serving North Texans, including those most in need,” said Jim Scoggin, CEO of the Methodist Health System via release. “We see supporting this important effort to help the uninsured as an extension of our mission.”