UTSA Affordable Care Act discussion available via NOWCastSA.com video

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(Dec. 18, 2013) -- In an effort to dispel myths about the federal health insurance marketplace in San Antonio, Community First Health Plans teamed up with the UTSA Policy Studies Center to sponsor the Affordable Care Fair on Dec. 7 at the UTSA Downtown Campus.

The event featured a panel discussion moderated by Rogelio Saenz, dean of the UTSA College of Public Policy. Speakers included District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, Community First Health Plans President and CEO Greg Gieseman, CommuniCare Health Centers Chief Revenue Officer Quiara Sherrard and Jose Ibarra of Enroll America.

A video archive of the policy discussion is available on YouTube and NOWCastSA.com. Speakers discuss the basics of the enrollment process and how our community can benefit from the Affordable Care Act. San Antonio is among cities with the highest rates of uninsured Texans.

"Despite the Affordable Care Act becoming law, there have been many efforts to do away with, to scrap, to delay, to change and to modify it," Saenz said. "Despite the problems with the website and all of the efforts to do away with the ACA or delay it, we know that the ACA is much better than the system we have in place. For many people in our country, our state and community, that means not having any health care (coverage) at all."

According to Saenz, the following groups are uninsured in our community:

  • One out of five San Antonio residents and one of four Latinos living in San Antonio
  • 38 percent of employed San Antonio residents and 56 percent of unemployed San Antonio residents

Those statistics, Saenz, said underscore the immediate need for the Affordable Care Act and expansion of new health-care programs across Bexar County.

Gieseman of Community First said that, despite all of the debate and website glitches, many parts of the ACA have already been implemented.

"There are many things that have been done: expanding coverage to include dependent children under age 26 or requiring insurers to spend a certain percentage of their premiums on medical care," Gieseman said. "The ACA is a great big thing, and a lot of components have already been implemented."

Another important facet of the ACA -- no delays on health-care coverage for pre-existing conditions -- can make the difference between life and death.

"Typically, what has happened in the past is that people with pre-existing conditions might have to wait a year before they can get coverage for a particular kind of condition," said Sherrard of CommuniCare. "Those conditions are usually serious ones like HIV or cancer. You can actually die from these things if you don't get the care that you need."

Gonzales said greater access to affordable health insurance will help to empower families.

"The adults in our area aren't covered; as families we have to support each other," she said. "If the adults are sick or the grandparents are sick, the child is not going to be well, regardless of how much coverage the child has."

>> Anyone with questions about the Affordable Care Act Dec. 23 deadline to enroll for Jan. 1 coverage can call 1-888-323-7407 or visit CommunityFirstHealth.org.

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About Community First Health Plans

Community First Health Plans was established in 1995 by the University Health System to provide health-care coverage to the citizens of Bexar and the surrounding counties. As the only locally owned and managed, nonprofit health plan in the area, CFHP's commitment to its members is to provide great health-care benefits backed by outstanding service, delivered by people who live in South Texas.