Health Navigators Expand Health Access | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Expanding Health Access Throughout North Texas

Our Health Navigators are here to assist North Texans who are looking for health insurance coverage.

Need health insurance? Enroll by Dec. 15 to ensure you and your family are covered starting Jan. 1, 2023. Get assistance here

 

Texas has been called “the uninsured capital of the United States,” with 20.8% of all residents under the age of 65 lacking health insurance coverage. Without health insurance, patients have less access to recommended care, routinely receive poorer quality of care and experience worse health outcomes than their insured counterparts, according to research.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we recognize that access to health care coverage helps North Texans live longer, healthier lives. And good health affects everything from how well a student does in school to how successful an adult is in their career.

Health insurance is a key focus of our Aspire United 2030 community goals, our North Star for driving impact in education, income and health over the next 10 years. In the area of health, we’re working to increase to 96% the number of North Texans with access to affordable health care insurance.

Our Healthcare Navigator program is one of the ways we work to expand access to health care. With open enrollment for 2023 insurance plans beginning Nov. 1, let’s take a look at the impact of this important initiative, plus how you can get involved to help expand access to health resources in our community.

 

A History of Low Enrollment Rates

Although about one-fifth of Texas’ population lacks health insurance in a typical year, many residents have avoided signing up for coverage through the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace—even if they were eligible for subsidies that would lower their insurance premiums. In fact, only 30% of Texans eligible for a subsidized plan in 2020 actually signed up.

This tradition of low enrollment rates hurts our state in several ways. In North Texas, 33% of Latinx, 15% of Black, 11% of Asian 8% of white individuals don’t have health insurance. This contributes to poor health outcomes and higher costs for people of color in our community.

On a broader scale, Texas’ high uninsured rate might be damaging the state’s economy. A study by the Texas Alliance for Health Care found that uninsured employees tend to have worse health, which limits their earning potential. Meanwhile, a lack of coverage increases absenteeism and sidelines skilled workers, which hurts employers.

 

2022: A Turning Point for Health Insurance in Texas

In 2022, Texas broke its long-standing streak of low enrollment, with 1.84 million people enrolled through the Marketplace. That was up 550,000 from 2021—a one-year increase of 42%, which is more than any other state.

A large part of that success came from the availability of higher subsidies, which cover most people who enroll in the Marketplace. But it’s also due to healthcare navigators, who help to get the word out about health insurance and open enrollment, assist Texans with signing up for insurance and applying for subsidies, and field questions about benefits, coverage, billing and more. In 2021, President Biden significantly increased funding for healthcare navigators, enabling organizations like ours to ramp up our efforts to get more of our neighbors enrolled.

 

Improving Access to Healthcare

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we lead the North Texas Consortium, a network of local community organizations dedicated to increasing health insurance coverage in our community. Through this program, our healthcare navigators assist uninsured North Texans as they compare and enroll in plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace, CHIP or Medicaid. Navigators also work with individuals to get them signed up for all eligible subsidies, saving many North Texans hundreds of dollars every month.

In the first year of our healthcare navigator program, which ran from September 2021 to August 2022, our team assisted tens of thousands of North Texans with their health insurance questions. Our navigators:

1

Fielded 98,044 inquiries

2

Assisted 35,085 North Texans with locating providers, accessing preventive care, understanding billing and more

3

Enrolled 3,648 local children in Medicaid/CHIP

For many of these neighbors, gaining affordable health insurance is a life-changing event. As Christina Gamez, a navigator with the North Texas Consortium, shared, enrolling people in health coverage has a profound effect on them.

“When we are out providing our services to the communities, our patients, our neighbors, our fellow patrons, we are doing more than just enrolling someone in insurance, and ACA Marketplace is more than just medical coverage,” she said. “It is returning a sense of empowerment and dignity to the people where it has been lost. Together we can make a difference.”

 

Open Enrollment Runs Nov. 1 to Jan. 15

If you need health insurance for 2023, you can enroll in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace starting Nov. 1. Enroll by Dec. 15 to ensure you and your family are covered on Jan. 1, 2023. Or, you can enroll by Jan. 15 for coverage to start Feb. 1, 2023. Visit HealthCare.gov to get started.

If you’re interested in working with a healthcare navigator (at not cost to you), our team is available to help you:

  • Compare health plans
  • Understand your benefits options
  • Select the best qualified health plan for your needs
  • Apply for subsidies to lower your monthly premiums

Visit unitedwaydallas.org/enroll to sign up for free assistance today.

 

Together, We Can Expand Healthcare Access

Join us as we work to ensure more of our North Texas neighbors have access to the healthcare resources necessary to thrive. Here are three ways you can be part of the change right now:

This article was published on: Oct 31, 2022