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Conservative Think Tank Says Feds Are Spinning ACA Numbers For Texas

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

A new report out this week from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows Texas ranks third in the nation for the number of people registering under the Affordable Care Act, but a Texas conservative think-tank says many of those people weren’t previously uninsured and there are millions that haven't taken any action.

The report says over 700,000 Texans have applied for healthcare coverage using the federal marketplace under the Affordable Care Act and over 295,000 have selected an individual plan. Arlene Wohlgemuth with the Texas Public Policy Foundation says these are small numbers compared to the 6.2-million who are uninsured.

“We have to take into account another couple of factors, only 27% of those who are enrolling in the exchange were previously uninsured. So if you apply that 27% to the number of people who have selected a plan, that’s only 1.28-percent of our number of uninsured," Wohlgemuth says. “And we know that not all of those have paid for their plan, so we know not all of those are going to be enrolled by March of this year."

Wohlgemuth says only 60% of those eligible for financial assistance have signed up, and most of them are elderly Texans and women--two high-risk groups that would qualify for more subsidies. But that isn’t the case when comes to younger adults.

Wohlgemuth says,  “If the 27-year old were earning 250% of poverty, which is about 28 to 29-thousand dollars annually, their subsidy would be only $8.40 a month.”

She says that would leave that person with a bill for $192 each month. She predicts most younger Texans will chose to pay the estimated $95 penalty rather than sign up for healthcare coverage.

Close to two million more people need to choose a health plan by March 31st for the federal government to reach its six million goal.  It's estimated that Texans choosing to pay the penalty rather than sign up for coverage could benefit the federal government by up to $266-million dollars.