AUSTIN (Nexstar)— As open enrollment for 2022 healthcare coverage approaches, there’s a push to get more Texans insured.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, is a leader of this outreach effort. He said Texas nears the top of the list for the most people without health insurance in the country.
Foundation Communities, a non-profit that provides resources and assistance to those seeking health insurance held a press conference, a few days before open enrollment to begin the conversation with Doggett, Travis County Judge Andy Brown and Austin City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes.
Austin Musician James Booker kicked off a press conference with an intimate live performance.
“Yeah, this is definitely a first,” Booker said with a chuckle. Once he got everyone’s attention with his talent on full display, he shared his story about how seeking assistance for affordable health insurance changed his life.
“The first time I had a seizure, I did not have health insurance,” Booker said. “And I didn’t get to do any of the follow-up care. I just hoped I wouldn’t have another one.”
But Booker did have another one. And he found out he’s prone to seizures. He said doctors don’t know why yet.
“I woke up in my living room, EMS was there,” Booker said. “Pretty crazy expensive. So having the insurance the second time was really the only reason that I was able to get through it.”
Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), partnering with Foundation Communities was able to help Booker get set up with an affordable plan. Giving Texans equal access to this is something Doggett said is important.
“Thanks to some of the work we did in Congress over the obstruction of the same people who’ve refused to accept Obamacare all along, we’ve made some changes that will make the availability of health insurance more accessible and less expensive this year than it has been in the past,” Doggett said.
Doggett said there are about a half billion people in Texas who qualify for free marketplace coverage right now.
“Many of those people will not get it because they are working hard just to get by,” Doggett said. “They’re not aware of these opportunities.”
There are local groups like Foundation Communities that can help you work through your options.
Booker hopes you don’t wait until it’s too late. Because it almost was for him.
“It’s really easy to take health for granted,” Booker said. “That was me.”