Cab Drivers Excited to Get Covered

February 12, 2014

Editor’s note: This blog post was written by Central Texas organizer and former taxi cab driver, Alfredo Santos.

Last month, I had the opportunity with Sarah Mangrem, field director with Insure Central Texas and Foundation Communities, to be part of a special information session at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. This session was held in the taxi drivers’ waiting area and was to let the cabbies know about their new options under the Affordable Care Act.

When we arrived, there were already cab drivers waiting. As Sarah began, more cab drivers began streaming in and soon there were 14 cab drivers leaning in to hear what she had to say. “Will you repeat what you just said?” one of the cab drivers asked with a sheepish smile. Sarah smiled back and restated that the Affordable Care Act was going to make health care a reality for millions of people. She said that people were no longer going to be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

Sarah Mangrem with Insure Central Texas discusses enrollment with Austin cab drivers.

Sarah Mangrem with Insure Central Texas discusses enrollment with Austin cab drivers.
Credit: Foundation Communities

When the cab drivers heard this, they turned to each other and began exchanging comments at a face pace. Once the commotion settled down, she returned to her presentation and laid out the other important points of the ACA. Under the new law, people would have access to emergency room services, prescription drugs, and hospital care.

For many cab drivers, the idea of affordable health insurance is a distant idea. Because most cab drivers work as independent contractors, health insurance isn’t typically offered through their jobs. Now, because of the affordability options, the idea of health care is something that is going to be a reality for many more drivers. At Get Covered America, we’re hoping as more of them enroll, they’ll spread the news about their positive experiences.

By the time the time the presentation concluded, dozens of cab drivers had come in to learn more. Many took literature with them, and some spoke of an incident the previous week, when a cab driver had collapsed in the parking lot. They wondered how his fate would have been different, if he’d had health insurance to help him get the care he needed before that happened.

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