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Nonprofit North Texas 3-Share Plan Offers New Texas Health Plan Option

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Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the country, as nearly one in four Texans is currently living without Texas health insurance. The reasons for remaining uninsured range from high costs to unemployment to employers not offering benefits, but one local nonprofit is hoping to reduce the state’s high number of uninsured inhabitants.

According to the Dallas Morning News, North Texas 3-Share Plan wants to help uninsured employees in Dallas County by providing a relatively inexpensive and subsidized health care option.  The plan launched its first initiative, TexHealth Dallas County, last week in Irving.  The organization is led by Don Spies, who was formerly a Dallas County director of health initiatives.  “We want to focus on preventive care,” Spies said. “There are so many who will forgo care until something gets worse,” and then costs can quickly escalate.

Living without a Texas health insurance plan is particularly troublesome for Texans who work for companies with fewer than 50 employees because more than 60 percent of small businesses do not offer health insurance.  In a multi-share plan like the North Texas 3-Share Plan, the cost burden is partially lifted from the employer without being placed directly on the employee, as a public fund also contributes to create a more affordable Texas health insurance plan. According to the Dallas Morning News:

The 2010 cost is $260 per employee per month, with the employer paying half, the employee liable for $50 and the subsidy paying the remaining $80…The program will be available to small businesses that have not offered group health insurance in the past 12 months. Employees are eligible if they have a pre-tax income of $16 an hour or less, which is about 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

This dramatic cut in health care costs for employees comes at a fortuitous time, as federal health care reform is leading many companies to drop their Texas health insurance plans in order to save money.  If multi-share plans take off and see early success, they may play a big role in providing low-cost Texas health insurance to employees and small businesses affected by such reforms.

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