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How Obamacare could impact Southeast Texans
JEFFERSON COUNTY- by Haley Bull
The new health insurance law, Obamacare, is receiving mixed reviews, and impacting some Southeast Texans. Some people applaud the new law and others claim they're losing insurance because of it.
President Obama apologized Thursday and announced health insurers could extend coverage for individuals and small groups through 2014.
The Department of Health and Human Services estimates more than one in five Texans are uninsured, one of the highest rates in the nation. Enrollment for insurance through the federal marketplace, www.healthcare.gov, opened Oct. 1st. Since then, about 1,000 Texans selected a marketplace plan.
Some Southeast Texans say the plans are simply not affordable.
"As far as the Affordable Care Act goes, it does not benefit me one bit," Stephanie Pipes said.
Texans are applying and waiting to see what kind of health coverage they can afford.
"It's been stuck forever trying to verify my information," Pipes said. "I have a private Aetna plan which I have been informed will end due to all this that's going on with Obamacare and I have to find other coverage."
Pipes is a medical billing clerk and single mom.
"I have to have insurance for future treatments," she said.
They are future treatments she expects because of a medical history that includes a brain tumor.
"These are things that will come back," Pipes said.
She said she tried to check of Obamacare, but like many Americans, the online sign-up didn't let her get to the end. Since then, she's looked at comparable plans.
"I'm one of the millions of Americans that are stuck right there in that rut, too rich to afford the help and too poor to pay for what you need," Pipes said. "I mean, that's pretty sad."
Obamacare has created a system of navigators, some that were helping Southeast Texans at a sign-up event in Port Arthur Saturday. They help guide patients, like Pipes, through the maze of information.
"We've seen people who make too much for the traditional medicaid and are not making enough for a subsidy under the Affordable Care Act," Mario Castillo said. He's a regional organizer for the Gulf Coast region for Enroll America.
"They're being told, you know, they don't really have an option, and it's unfortunate, they're upset, but it's just a reality that we're seeing," Castillo said.
For people falling through the cracks, Dr. Ray Callas with Anesthesia Associates said the emergency room may be their only option.
"You're still gonna have people that are gonna be the minority but they will still use the emergency room as their primary care physician or they'll still seek treatment in the emergency room that should be seen in a doctors office," Callas said. "So that's another thing that's gonna continue to drive up cost."
It's the cost of a new healthcare system some say needs resuscitation and others argue is a lost cause.
People planning to enroll through the marketplace have until Dec. 15th in order for health coverage to start Jan. 1st. After that, the deadline extends to March 31st before penalties for not having coverage will take effect.