Local Group Helps West Texans Understand Obamacare

Local Group Helps West Texans Understand Obamacare

by Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Nearly a fourth of West Texans don't have health insurance, and while the new Affordable Care Act is open for business, many people don't know what it entails or how to enroll. But one group in Midland is trying to help you make sense of it.

Project Amistad's Navigation Program has only been operating since October 1st and they already have a backlog of 500 people waiting for their educational services related to Obamacare.

Part of the reason that number is inflated is because the healthcare.gov website has been causing trouble, according to Midland's Project Amistad Spokesperson, Irene Schwaninger.

"It is somewhat overwhelming because we will reach out and personally assist every person on that list but it is frustrating to have to wait for the healthcare.gov system to come back up," Schwaninger said.

Schwaninger says they've been helping a range of people and organizations sift through the confusion of the Affordable Care Act, mainly those who are uninsured or underinsured.

"I've had children in here as young as six looking for health insurance, which is kinda surreal and obviously we deal with the parents," she said.

The non-profit links people called "Navigators" who are certified by the federal government to answer healthcare related questions. Although companies like United Healthcare and Aetna have those people as well, there is one key difference:

"They're going out and presenting their product. We're the only ones that have the licensed navigators and present the big picture of all the products and services available," Schwaninger said.

Although they can help people decide which premium to get, Project Amistad doesn't know what advice to offer those who can't afford one.

"So we're trying to find ways to bridge that gap so they're not having to get fined," she said.

Project Amistad can set up a presentation at community centers and has already been out to A Healthy You, Casa de Amigos and the Area Agency on Aging.

Interested people can call Project Amistad at 877-413-2372 for personal appointments or the local office at 432-218-9266 to schedule a presentation for an organization.

You have until March 31st to get on a plan and if you're not on one by then, you can get fined up to $94 per person in your family.