AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — This fall, online health insurance markets called exchanges will open in each state as part of the new federal health care law. Consumers will be able to choose among a selection of private insurance plans, with the government providing subsidies for some who can't afford the premiums. Gov. Rick Perry has said Texas will not set up its own exchange, instead relying on the federal government to do so. Here's a look at how the new system will affect Texas:
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE UNINSURED IN TEXAS?
Texas has the highest percentage of people without health insurance in the country, about 29 percent of the non-elderly, or 6.6 million people. The new health insurance system is forecast to cut the number in half, to about 3.2 million people. The remainder will be people who are either too poor to afford health insurance or who do not qualify, such as non-citizens.
WHAT IS TEXAS DOING ABOUT EXPANDING MEDICAID?
The federal government is pressing the states to expand Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor and disabled, to cover more low-income people. Perry has rejected the idea, but some state lawmakers are exploring the possibility. Texas has one of the most stringent Medicaid programs in the country and for the most part bars single adults from participating. More than 3.6 million people are enrolled, with 2.7 million of them under 19. Experts say expanding Medicaid would add between 1.5 million and 2 million people to the program. Under the new law, the federal government would cover the full cost of the expansion through 2016, with the state's contribution rising in stages to 10 percent.