The Secretary’s visits here now follow a predictable script.
She stands at a podium, usually in a community center in a neighborhood where many low-income and uninsured residents live. Democratic members of Congress array themselves at either elbow.
Sebelius points out the nearby computers, or the library, where people can log on to HealthCare.gov. She introduces the advocates who can help people sign up.
And she talks numbers.
“Almost five million residents of Texas have no health insurance. Five million people.”
And she talks prices.
“For a 27-year-old, they can find a bronze plan for $81 a month. You can’t pay your cell bill for $81 a month; you can’t pay a cable bill for $81 a month. But you could have full health coverage.”
And then there are the political consequences.
For example, the federal money Texas is losing out on, by not expanding Medicaid to more adults.
“Texas is losing $18 million a day, $18 million, which would come into the state each and every day starting on the first of January of this year.”
Finally, Sebelius talks about success stories, and even produces them in the flesh.
Today she introduced a wife and mother of two from Meyerland, named Betsy Furler.
“Our policy is fantastic, it’s affordable for our family and it was super, super easy to sign up.”
Furler’s teenage son has severe epilepsy and a metabolic disorder. For years, the family struggled to find the right insurance because of his pre-existing conditions.
Before the Affordable Care Act, a family plan for them cost $2,800 a month. Their new plan now costs $1,300 a month.
“I also went to pick up my medications from the pharmacy on February 5 and I was so pleased to find out that the medications that had cost me about $280 a month prior, now cost me $5 a month because of our great plan.”
Furler, a speech pathologist, says she would pick jobs based on health insurance, and was unable to launch her own therapy business.
“We have worried for 16 years that we would go bankrupt because of the cost of our medical care. So like I said we’re just so relieved that we can now get a great insurance policy. I don’t have to choose a job based on healthcare, I can have the small business that I’ve always wanted to have. I can grow that and have employees of my own.”
Sebelius finished by talking about two insurance sign-up events tomorrow here in Houston, one for young adults, the “Rock Enroll” event at Discovery Green in downtown Houston, and another focused on Latino families at the Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center in southwest Houston.