The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) will receive $1.8 million to help uninsured area residents sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
HDHHS plans to use the federal grant funds to organize about 500 outreach events, produce and distribute promotional materials, set up a call center and visit community sites such as grocery stores, day care centers, businesses and places of worship in neighborhoods with high rates of uninsured people.
It will also hire about a dozen workers to augment the number of employees trained to help people enroll in health care coverage and use its 11 multi-service centers, four health centers, and 14 Women, Infant and Children (WIC) sites as convenient education and enrollment centers.
Open enrollment for the 2015 plan year begins November 15.
An estimated 1.1 million residents in Houston and Harris County lack health care coverage, representing 19 percent of the uninsured in Texas. Houston’s poverty rate is also high, at 23 percent, compared to 15 percent nationwide. Fifty-three percent of Hispanics in Harris County have no health insurance coverage.
HDHHS will serve again as the lead agency for the Gulf Coast Health Insurance Marketplace Collaborative, a consortium of local organizations it brought together in 2013 to coordinate and facilitate enrollment efforts during the first ACA sign up period.
The collaborative’s strategies helped Houston reach 197,650 enrollments by April 15, surpassing the initial Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services target of 138,000. The agencies, as part of the collaborative, also reached out to more than 500,000 people and visited one-on-one with more than 150,000 residents.
Other collaborative agencies are the Association for Advancement of Mexican Americans, Change Happens, Gateway to Care, Enroll America, Harris County Healthcare Alliance, Harris Health System, Houston Area Urban League, Memorial Hermann Health System, One Voice, SRA International, Texas Organizing Project, Texans Together and Vecino Health Centers.
Last year, HDHHS received a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the enrollment campaign.