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Secretary Sebelius to spend more time in Texas to increase number of residents signing up for health care

Friday, February 14, 2014

Do you have health insurance? More than a million people in the Houston area don't but are eligible for coverage, and the push is on to get people signed up.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she plans to spend a lot of time in Texas over the next six weeks, trying to get more Latinos and young people to sign up for health care.

Despite the original struggles folks had signing up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, many, like Betsy Furler of Houston, are signing up.

"It's such piece of mind. It is unbelievable how excited we are," Furler said.

Till now, having a differently-abled son left her paying over $1,800 a month for coverage.

"It's half, it's half of what we were paying," Furler said

HHS reports nearly 3.3 million signed up through February 1. But according to Sebelius, 1.1 million right here in Houston are eligible and yet are still uninsured. And 90 percent of them would even qualify for financial assistance.

"Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured in the entire country," Sebelius said.

Sebelius spoke in Houston on Friday at an event kicking off health enrollment events which will focus on Latinos and young people.

"We just want to make sure that they have all the information," said Venus Gines with Dia de la Mujer Latina.

Gines says Latinos have been hesitant to sign up for coverage because of general distrust of government and even doctors. Elected leaders say young people are reluctant because their focus is primarily not on health.

"Health is not a major part of a young person's life.. They are pretty much invincible so we have to do a lot of things to get their attention," Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said.

It's worth noting that data from the urban institute shows about a half-million people are too poor to buy Marketplace coverage and earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

Health care enrollments are available at the following times and locations:

11am-4pm at the Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center, 3810 W. Fuqua St.
1-4pm at Discovery Green Park, 1500 McKinney St.

Bring with you your Social Security card; income tax/proof of income; proof of citizenships, legal residents or ID card; and email address.

Find Kevin on Facebook at abc13kevinquinn or on Twitter at @kquinn001

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