Health Insurance

Texas Capitol
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas’ bipartisan effort to shield patients from surprise medical bills could be weaker than lawmakers intended when it takes effect Jan. 1.

Jan Lance and Rene Lara walk down a street in Southeast Austin
Julia Reihs / KUT

A group of about 20 people gathered in Southeast Austin on a chilly Saturday morning to knock on doors in nearby neighborhoods. The #SickOfItTX event was one of seven across the state aimed at organizing Texans around the state's uninsured rate, which is the highest in the country.  

A decision in the latest court case to threaten the future of the Affordable Care Act could come as soon as this month. The ruling will come from the panel of judges in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments in the Texas v. Azar lawsuit.

An estimated 24 million people get their health coverage through programs created under the law, which has faced countless court challenges since it passed.

An ambulance in front of a hospital entrance.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT

Nearly 1 in 3 Texans in neighborhoods of color have medical debt, according to a new study from the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

More than 5 million Texans didn’t have health insurance in 2018, according to figures released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. The year before, about 4.8 million Texans lacked coverage.

Spencer Selvidge for KUT

Texans who get their health insurance from a large employer are more likely to get a surprise bill in an emergency compared to people with similar plans in other states, according to research published Thursday.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Almost two-thirds of Texans think state lawmakers should expand Medicaid to cover more low-income uninsured people, according to a survey funded by the Episcopal Health Foundation.

Carol Marley wants everyone to know what a life-threatening cancer diagnosis looks like in America today.

Yes, it's the chemotherapy that leaves you weak and unable to walk across the room. Yes, it's the litany of tests and treatments – the CT scans and MRIs and biopsies and endoscopies and surgeries and blood draws and radiation and doctor visits. Yes, it's envisioning your funeral, which torments you day and night.

But none of these is her most gnawing, ever present concern.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Consumer advocates and health insurers are pushing Texas lawmakers to address surprise medical bills during this year’s legislative session.

Trump Seeks Action To Stop Surprise Medical Bills

Jan 24, 2019

President Trump instructed administration officials Wednesday to investigate how to prevent surprise medical bills, broadening his focus on drug prices to include other issues of price transparency in health care.

Flanked by patients and other guests invited to the White House to share their stories of unexpected and outrageous bills, Trump directed his health secretary, Alex Azar, and labor secretary, Alex Acosta, to work on a solution, several attendees said.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A growing number of Texans are turning to a little-known state mediation program to deal with surprise hospital bills. However, the program is likely only addressing a fraction of the surprise medical bills Texans receive in the mail every year. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Soon after a federal judge ruled Friday that the Affordable Care Act was invalid, Gov. Greg Abbott told The Dallas Morning News that Texas would create its own health care system if the decision is upheld.

It won't be that simple. Here are some things you should know about Abbott’s plan:

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

More than 1 million Texans signed up for health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act during the enrollment period that ended the day after a federal judge ruled the law is invalid. That's almost 40,000 fewer sign-ups than during the last enrollment period.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Editor's note: Shortly after this story aired, Rodriguez said St. David's reached out to him to discuss possible financial assistance. According to Rodriguez, the matter has been settled and he now owes only $1,600 as of Nov. 14.

There’s an uptick in health insurance companies not covering emergency room care, according to a consumer advocacy group.

Washington, D.C.-based Consumers for Quality Care said the increase is the result of the Trump administration pushing less regulated health care plans in its effort to undo protections created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County commissioners have decided to push back a decision on whether Central Health should shut down its nonprofit health insurance company, known as Sendero. They said they will wait to vote until there is a public hearing.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Trump administration recently announced big cuts to a program that helps people sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Many Texans are struggling to afford health care, according to a new survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

The study found more than half of those surveyed (55 percent) said it is difficult for them and their families to afford health care; a quarter said it is "very difficult."

Spencer Selvidge / KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Whenever there’s a medical emergency the very first thing on one’s mind – especially if they’re insured – isn’t typically how much the bill could be. It’s to get help as quickly as possible, then deal with the cost later.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Almost the same number of Texans who signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the last enrollment period signed up this time, according to the federal government. The figure took experts by surprise because there were federal cuts in funding for outreach and assistance.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

It’s been a week since open enrollment began for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and groups in Austin say they are experiencing a surge in sign-ups.

Health care activists were concerned that new policies from the Trump administration – including budget cuts for outreach and navigators – would lead to a drop in enrollment.

Central Health
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The fourth open enrollment period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace is less than a month away.

This time things will be different, though.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Texas has the highest population of uninsured people in the nation. 

Roughly 4.5 million people in Texas didn’t have health insurance in 2016, leading the nation in both the number and percentage of residents who are uninsured, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today.

Spencer Selvidge / KUT News

From Texas Standard:

As Senate Republican leaders reveal another version of their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, taking politics out of the health care picture may be just the medicine needed. Political noise aside, the fact remains that health care costs are still too high, and many individuals can’t afford coverage. Experts say the political debate is essentially moot until the financial barriers to care are sorted out.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives took another stab at repealing and replacing Obamacare on Thursday, passing the American Health Care Act.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

More than 1.2 million Texans are signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace. That’s the part of Obamacare that allows companies to sell plans directly to individuals. Under the GOP replacement bill working its way through Congress, there could be big changes to how the government helps these individuals pay for their plans.


Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

With talk of Republicans in Congress repealing the health care law in the coming months, this could be the last time the health insurance marketplace, created under the Affordable Care Act, can offer Texans insurance.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT News

The enrollment period for the federal health insurance exchange ends Jan. 31. For many Texans who don’t get their insurance through an employer, this has been an affordable way to get a policy in the state for the past few years.

But if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, this could be the last year it’s an option.

Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

Texas' rate of uninsured people fell to 17.1 percent in 2015 as part of a steady decline in the share of uninsured residents following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to new Census estimates released Tuesday.

The state's rate of uninsured fell two percentage points from 2014 to 2015, but Texas still has the highest percentage of people without health insurance in the country. Texas is also home to the largest number of uninsured people in the country with about 4.6 million uninsured residents. 

Saying they now have new information that significantly changes the case before them, the Supreme Court justices sidestepped a constitutional decision on the latest Obamacare challenge and sent the government and the religious organizations back to the drawing board.

In a unanimous decision, the court said it was not deciding the central question in the case: whether Obamacare's contraceptive mandate substantially burdens some organizations' right to exercise their religion.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Pregnant women are among the large number of people who are part of Texas' large uninsured population. For some women, that means they won’t see a doctor until late in their pregnancy. That’s why Dell Medical School at UT Austin – in partnership with a group of community health clinics – has launched a project aimed at changing the way women in Travis County get prenatal care.


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