Health insurance coverage for the state’s more than 100 million uninsured people has been virtually nonexistent for nearly a year.
Now, some of those who still need coverage have started to be able to find it thanks to a major expansion of Texas’ Medicaid program, the state Health and Human Services Department said Monday.
“We’re seeing some very positive changes in terms of coverage,” said Heidi W. Myers, the agency’s health director.
The program, launched in January, provides health insurance coverage to people with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or $23,976 for a family of four.
About 10% of those with the Medicaid expansion had coverage last year, and the remaining people would receive coverage starting July 1, said Amy S. Pfeiffer, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Texas is the only state with its own Medicaid program and the only one without an exchange to compete with private plans.
Medicaid expansion Texas Medicaid expansion was a key piece of President Donald Trump’s signature health care overhaul, which was initially passed with bipartisan support in March and now faces opposition from some conservatives who worry that it will drive up the cost of coverage and discourage low-income Texans from seeking it out.
Texas has one of the nation’s lowest uninsured rates, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, with just about 10% covered in Medicaid.
That’s lower than the national average of 13%.
It is the lowest in the country.
The new Medicaid expansion will provide coverage for up to 400,000 people, including about 5.5 million Texans who were previously uninsured.
The agency said the expansion has already been expanded by more than 2 million Texans and has brought in more than $200 million in federal funding for Texas to cover the state, which had $6 billion in Medicaid spending at the end of June.
“The new expansion is a game changer for Texas,” Myers said.
Texas’ uninsured rate fell by almost 1.6 percentage points to 11.2%, the lowest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The rate has fallen from about 26% in the year before the expansion, according the Kaiser, but it’s still far higher than the 8% nationwide rate of 11.8%.
Texas’ enrollment in Medicaid expanded plans has been steady at about 4.4 million.
The state has about 1.8 million uninsured Texans, about two-thirds of them children.
But there are about 1 million people who qualify for the Medicaid expansions through a federal government program called Section 8, which provides subsidies to people in states with high rates of poverty.
They can get the subsidies at a federal health exchange or through private plans in the state.
About 2.4% of all Texans have Section 8 coverage, and about 4% have private coverage, according a state analysis released in June.
The number of people who have private health insurance has dropped since last year.
About 11.7% of Texas adults have private insurance, down from 16.5% in January.
The decline in private insurance has led to more people having coverage in the Medicaid program.
About 3.6 million Texans now have Medicaid coverage, up from 3.2 million in the first half of this year, according an analysis by the state in September.
That makes up about 13% of Texans.
Medicaid expansions are designed to expand health coverage to more low- and moderate-income residents, but critics have questioned whether they will work because they do not meet a set of criteria that would allow them to cover all of the people who need it.
The Medicaid expansion does not cover prescription drugs or cancer treatments, but the state will cover a certain number of low-cost tests and surgeries for those who qualify.
The Trump administration has proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicaid from 21 to 25, and has proposed a federal-state program to expand the program to low- to moderate- income people.
The federal government is also considering a similar program, known as the Essential Health Benefits Plan.
“Medicaid is a state program, and states are allowed to decide what their own Medicaid expansion programs should be,” said Jessica E. Schoenfeld, a health policy professor at George Mason University.
But critics have also argued that the federal government has been too aggressive in expanding Medicaid.
They have raised concerns that the program will be a magnet for more people to get Medicaid, which could result in fewer healthy people getting coverage.
“That’s what makes Medicaid such a great program,” Myers told reporters at the news conference.
Medicaid coverage for some people with pre-existing conditions In addition to Medicaid expansion, the federal exchange also will offer some other options for Texans who have preexisting conditions.
The exchange will offer health insurance to people who already have insurance through an employer or government program.
The marketplace will allow consumers to compare rates from different insurance companies, and it will offer discounts to people whose rates are lower than those of the lowest-cost options on the exchange.
The states also are offering health insurance subsidies for those with preterm births,