As the largest state and one of the most populated in the U.S., ensuring health care for all Texas residents has been a challenge for both the state and the federal government. Texas has been called the “uninsured capital of the U.S.,” with ore than 6.3 million Texans, including 1.2 million children, lacking health insurance. According to the Website Texmed.org, those numbers are nearly two times the national average. Additionally, Texas ranks 44th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for state health system performance and 36th out of 50 for overall health. The good news is that the state has a low rate of cancer among its citizens, relatively good mental health rates and low incidents of drug deaths. At the same time, high rates of obesity and physical inactivity could put those positive statistics in danger.
In order to encourage more residents of Texas to enroll in health insurance, the state has created a number of helpful Websites and publications to assist citizens with understanding the importance of health insurance and the positive ways it can affect children. TexasHealthOptions.com is one of the sites the state has created. It informs Texas residents about why health insurance is necessary and explains how preventative health care can assure that children and parents live longer, better quality lives. The site stresses the fact that health emergencies are expensive and health screenings and vaccinations can help families avoid those costs. The site also explains that Texas residents can use an approved ‘navigator’ to assist with marketplace health insurance enrollment and reminds them that open enrollment for health insurance runs from November 15th through February 15th. It also explains an individuals’ rights. Those rights include the fact that ‘an insurer can only use three factors to determine an insurance rate or cost. Those factors include a resident’s age, place of residence and whether or not they use tobacco.”
The state of Texas has also instituted a program for children’s health called Texas Children’s Health Insurance Plan or CHIP. With CHIP, families can pay $50 or less a year in order to have health coverage for all of the children in their home. The coverage includes assistance with prescriptions, eye glasses, hearing tests, x-rays, dental care and other needed medical services. This low cost health coverage is intended to cover children from birth to age eighteen. According to the CHIPS Website, it is primarily intended for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford to buy private health insurance. CHIPS is offered in more than twenty counties in Texas and caps annual health costs at $50, although most families pay only $35.
While the sate of Texas is officially opposed to the American Care Act, (ACA), or Obamacare, the program has apparently aided Texas with increasing the number of residents enrolled in health insurance. Before the enactment of the ACA, 27% of Texas residents were uninsured. With the ACA, that number has dropped to 24%, although that figure still puts Texas with the highest rate of uninsured in the country.