23% of Lubbock residents lack health insurance - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

23% of Lubbock residents lack health insurance

Brent Magers Brent Magers

The Affordable Care Act was officially rolled out on Oct. 1. The problems have been well documented, but what has the impact been in Lubbock?

"At this point, it really hasn't affected us much," said Executive Associate Dean and CEO of Texas Tech Physicians Brent Magers. "Most of the changes take place in 2014, but I think the immediate impact, even in all of 2014, will be somewhat minimal to us."

Magers says he has heard multiple stories of people unable to get insurance from the marketplace. Malfunctions with the technology have caused deadlines to be pushed back, giving people more time to get coverage.

Magers says there may be some debate over the correct way to make sure everyone is insured, but it's something healthcare providers like.  

"I think most providers would like to see people have insurance coverage, thinking that it will relieve some of the demand for services from those who are uninsured," he said.

Texas leads the nation in uninsured citizens. Around 25% of the state's population is uninsured. Here in West Texas, those numbers are even higher. Hale County is 26%, Swisher 28%, Lynn 29%, Lamb 31% and Bailey 34%. Lubbock is slightly below average with 23% of the residents who are uninsured.

Theoretically, the Affordable Care Act would bring that number to zero, but Magers says it's not that simple.

"A person who is not accustomed to paying insurance premiums may elect to pay the fine rather than pay the premium," he said.

Right now, the Health Sciences Center is taking a wait and see approach. They are waiting for the exchange process to improve and waiting to see what will happen in 2014.

PDF: Uninsured people in West Texas by county

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