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Health Care Open Enrollment Begins With Less Funding

Ana Sandoval 2021.jpg
Courtesy of Ana Sandoval's campaign
District 7 Counciwoman Ana Sandoval speaks at a press conference about open enrollment in San Antonio

Open enrollment for health care plans under the Affordable Care Act begins Wednesday. The city and county, through its Enroll SA program, wants as many people as possible to register for health insurance, but cuts in federal funding might make it harder for some to register.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid services has reduced advertising by 90 percentso you may see less information from the federal government about open enrollment this year.

EnrollSA is powered by the Health Collaborative. Its goal is to guide people in obtaining health insurance in the federal marketplace with the help of navigators and volunteers.

Last year, there was funding for about 90 navigators, who are trained and paid to help people sign up for plans on the healthcare.gov website. But the director of San Antonio’s Metro Health Department, Dr. Colleen Bridger, said this year there’s been a reduction.

“The money for those folks has been slashed dramatically. This year we will have 30 to 40 (navigators), she said. “So what we’re doing instead is we’re triaging the process.”

That reduction doesn’t sit well with Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

“It just seems like they’re making it harder and harder for us to be able to offer this opportunity to citizens,” he said.

The federal government said fundingwas cut because 78 percent of navigators weren’t registering enough people.  “Navigators received over $62.5 million in federal grants while enrolling 81,426 individuals. Seventeen Navigators enrolled less than 100 people each at an average cost of $5,000 per each enrollee,“ a statement from CMS said.  

Before the ACA was implemented in 2014, 23 percent of the county was uninsured – it’s now at 16 percent.  For 2017, in Bexar County, there are 120,000 people enrolled in ACA plans.  Even if you registered last year for an ACA plan, you have to re-enroll this year.

Open enrollment closes on Dec. 15, which is a month and a half shorter than last year.

For more information, visit enrollsa.comor call 311.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules