More than 110 organizations statewide including civic groups, churches and physician groups have joined a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas campaign to educate and enroll Texans who don’t have health insurance.
The goal is to reach all of the more than 6 million uninsured Texans “in the places they live, work, worship, text and tweet,” Michelle Riddell, chair of the Be Covered Texas campaign and vice president of community investment for Richardson-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, told me in a recent interview. The campaign is gaining momentum, Riddell said.
“It demonstrates the hunger for information that Texans have about the Affordable Care Act and the need for educational information so that people will be ready to make an informed decision when enrollment begins on Oct. 1,” she said.
The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 expands health insurance in an effort to make coverage more affordable through subsidies and tax credits. The law also imposes escalating penalties for people who don’t purchase health insurance.
The subsidies vary based on income range. Be Covered Texas has information about what subsidies are available, as well as information on the penalties for not complying with the law.
Campaign partners so far include business organizations, civic groups, faith-based organizations, health and wellness groups, community groups, educational groups and physician organizations or clinics, Riddell said. Each group is reaching out to its members through conversations, emails, phone calls, community events and other methods and directing the members to becoveredtexas.org or Blue Cross Blue Shield’s consumer education hotline, 1-866-427-7492. All information on the web site and the hotline is available in English and Spanish.
Some examples of how Blue Cross Blue Shield partners are getting the word out include:
- In May, several organizations including the Ferguson Road Initiative community group in Dallas distributed information about Be Covered Texas in their monthly member newsletters and posted updates on their websites.
- In June, a Be Covered Texas representative spoke to more than 7,000 congregants at Sunday services at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston.
Starting Oct. 1, people will be able to go to the new government-installed online health care exchange to compare health plans offered by participating health insurers in their area.
Riddell pointed to a recent study that found 4 out of 10 Americans didn’t know that the Affordable Care Act is the law. Riddell told me she suspects the number of people unfamiliar with the law’s requirements is probably about the same in Texas.
“We have a lot of work to do to educate (Texans),” she said.
Even so, the campaign is off to a good start, having reached an estimated 1 million Texans so far, Riddell said.
“It’s not about marketing Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, although we’ll certainly do that separately,” she said. “Our goal through Be Covered Texas is educational. It’s to make sure Texans are aware of their options and able to make informed decisions.”