Affordable Care Act's effects begin showing in Texas health care system

May 10, 2013 5:28:05 PM PDT
Health care changes are beginning. The federal government is giving Texas $10 million to help people apply for health insurance under the new Affordable Care Act. Some three-dozen Houston-area clinics will receive part of those funds.

But that's just the beginning of the story. What will happen January 1, when the act goes into effect?

Brian Keever was diagnosed with AIDS in in 1986. He was told he'd be dead in two years.

"It's 2013 and I'm still here," he said.

He credits the Legacy Community Health Services for his survival. It provides no-cost and low-cost medical care and it helps him with his medicine.

"$5,280 a month," Keever said. "That's just my HIV medicine."

The Legacy clinic is one of 69 federally qualified health centers in Texas that will share $10 million to help people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

"We expect to some some confusion, we expect to see more people walk in the door with health insurance and we're ready to take that on," said Randall Ellis, vice president of Legacy Community Health Services.

Legacy sees about 50,000 patients a year in its seven locations. But in January, they're expecting more patients. If there are more insured people, they expect to see a lot of new patients If there are fewer insured people, then they'll become the safety net for those uninsured patients.

"People are postponing care if they don't already have insurance and they have to buy it and they will buy it, they're going to wait until january and that increases the demand hugely," said Dr. Pauline Vaillancourt Rosenau at the UT School of Public Health.

If you want insurance, you can buy it online now. But on october 1, the federal exchanges are expected to be available and to be cheaper. Dr. Rosenau says you can go online now and practice getting your health insurance.

"This is a consumers market and it's transparent. You can see what you're buying before you buy, there won't be any find print anymore," Dr. Rosenau said.

The federally qualified health centers treat all patients, no questions asked. But only U.S. citizens are allowed to enroll for insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13


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