TYLER, Texas — A study by the Texas Medical Association found 4.8 million Texans between 18-65 were not covered by health insurance in 2016. However, that number does not include the countless children without health insurance.
Texas children are uninsured at a higher rate than children in any other state, according to most recent census bureau data analyzed by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.
Some families fail to qualify for government assistance because their income is too high. Yet they do not have an employer-provided health plan and do not make enough money for a private policy.
Clinics like Bethesda Health in Tyler exist to help people in this situation.
“The mission of Bethesda is to provide health care for anyone who can get here who are working, but they either don't have health insurance, or they have health insurance, but their deductible is so high it's pretty much like they're uninsured,” said Megan Riaz, Bethesda Clinic Community Relations and Marketing Specialist.
Riaz says the number of patients at Bethesda is continuing to rise.
“Last year, we had about 19,000 patient visits, and that number continues to grow. So we see that as a trend in East Texas where people are working and they're not provided health insurance, they can't afford health insurance,” Riaz said.
Bethesda offers a sliding scale co-pay that is affordable for most. While they only treat adults, they refer young patients to other clinics in the area.
“There's only two co-pays: They are $20 or $30 per visit. We work with St. Paul's Children's Foundation, we send our patients there. And then when they have patients over there and their children with parents don't have health insurance, they send those parents over here to us,” Riaz said.