85-percent of uninsured El Pasoans ineligible for Obamacare


POSTED: Monday, March 31, 2014 - 6:23pm

UPDATED: Monday, March 31, 2014 - 6:27pm

Monday is the last day to register for Obamacare -- and the push to insure El Paso residents has hit a snag. More than 85-percent of uninsured El Pasoans do not qualify for the affordable health care act because they don't meet the income thresholds for Obamacare. Adding insult to injury -- they also don't qualify for Medicaid.

We visited an enrollment session in Central El Paso and discovered 154,000 low income people won't be able to get health insurance -- or even sign up for Medicaid, including Margarito Martinez.

Martinez sat patiently, waiting to get medical coverage through Obamacare. "I came because somebody tell [sic] me… if I didn't came [sic] I would have a fine or something,” Martinez told our crew. Martinez makes $8,000 a year picking crops. He's been uninsured for years. "Yeah, I worry. Because I need a doctor sometimes."

Minutes later -- he got the news he didn't want to hear. He does not qualify for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. He said it's frustrating. "They gave me an appointment for the 15th because I don't qualify for Obamacare."

Margarito is one of thousands of El Pasoans who will fall through the cracks because they fall below the poverty line, like Ruben Ochoa. "Bad. I feel bad because I'm eager to get medical insurance and then they tell you, you don't qualify,” Ochoa explains. Ochoa is an unemployed U.S. citizen who was hoping to get coverage.

In most states, including New Mexico, if you don't qualify for the Affordable Care Act -- you will qualify for Medicaid. But that's not the case here. If your income is less than $11,670 a year -- you can't receive Obamacare -- or Medicaid. In Texas, Medicaid only covers residents who are pregnant, disabled, or are children. Now both men are hoping to receive help through other means.

"I'm hoping they help people like me who don't make a lot of money,” Ochoa explained.

"I don't know maybe the 15 change something. Because I really need the medical,” Martinez said.

All Martinez can do now is continue to wait. There is a little bit of good news for these men because they fall under the poverty line they will not have to pay the penalty for not enrolling.
There are still some 24,000 El Pasoans who do qualify for Obamacare and need to sign up by April 15th.

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