Uninsured in Texas: COVID-19 services available in Central Texas

Travis County offers resources for those without health insurance

5 million Texans do not have health insurance and the Texas Medical Association fears that number will rise because of the pandemic.

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas has the highest uninsured rate compared to any other state in the U.S.

Dr. David Fleeger from the Texas Medical Association explains that 5 million Texans don’t have health insurance.

“With our current problems we expect that number to increase significantly after COVID-19,” Dr. Fleeger said. “Unfortunately in Texas, the number one place where the uninsured see their health care done is the emergency rooms,” 

An emergency room is not where anyone wants to be in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Central Health has stepped up their response, teaming up with CommUnityCare in offering telemedicine and over the phone support for people who have a low income and no insurance.

Ted Burton, VP of Central Health Communications said the agency has seen an increase in calls during the pandemic.

Their hotline number 512-978-8775.

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“The telehealth or telephone medical appointments are about 80-percent of what CommUnityCare is seeing right now and so that means patients are trying to stay home and stay safe,” said Burton. “We’ve even heard doctors say they can see more patients that way.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, minorities make up a large percentage of those uninsured in Texas in 2018. Hispanics are the largest population with 29-percent, followed by African Americans at 16-percent.

“We see areas across the board,” said Dr. Fleeger. “Our inner-city areas show high unemployment and in rural areas, many people are on Medicare or Medicaid or are uninsured completely and of course areas along the border.”

Dr. Fleeger encourages patients to utilize healthcare clinics because now is not the time to refrain from seeing a doctor. Central Health has opened up a drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility on East 41st Street.

People without an appointment or insurance, who meet criteria may be tested for free. “These tests are limited and so Community Care is working hard to get more tests and to be able to offer driveup testing to more parts of the community,” Burton said.

Central Health is looking at opening more drive-thru testing facilities in east Travis County in remote areas like Manor and Del Valle next week.

People’s Community Clinic also services those who are uninsured.

Lone Star Circle of Care offers services in Georgetown, Bastrop, Cedar Park, Marble Falls, Hutto and Round Rock.

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