TARRANT COUNTY -- So many of us take our good health for granted.
Not Olga Castillo.
"I'm not hoping to get sick, but if I get sick, you know… I don’t have insurance," she says.
When News 8 first met the 53-year-old home healthcare provider in March, she'd been standing in a line outside JPS, hoping to get enrolled under the Affordable Care Act.
She was one of Tarrant County's estimated 341,000 uninsured residents under the age of 64.
She never did get signed up, in part, she says, because she found the process confusing. Little did she know, last summer the federal government doled out $67 million in grants to 105 agencies nationwide -- to help people just like Castillo get educated and get enrolled.
The largest of those taxpayer-funded grants landed right here in North Texas, at the United Way of Tarrant County. It totaled nearly $5.9 million.
"The point of the grant was to educate and inform eligible people about the health care marketplace exchange," says UWTC President and CEO Tim McKinney.
His organization shared the grant with 15 other agencies, but their piece of the pie was about $344,000. With that money they hired navigators, held more than 100 educational events, reached out to tens of thousands of people and conducted more than 1,100 one-on-one appointments.
Despite those efforts, News 8 has learned the UWTC enrolled just 412 people in the Affordable Care Act. That's less than one percent of the county's uninsured population. McKinney says what the number doesn't reflect is all the people they educated -- who then chose to enroll on their own time.
"Who knows," McKinney says. "That additional number could have been zero; that additional number could’ve been 5,000."
Still, McKinney says the 412 figure concerns him.
"You would’ve wanted to enroll two (thousand) or 3,000," he says.
That's exactly what a Fort Worth businessman says he did, with one big difference: he used no federal dollars.
Health insurance marketer Jim Cashion spent thousands of dollars putting up a big red "Obamacare-- Enroll Here" sign outside his Fort Worth business to let people know they could get quick help there.
He says the investment paid off. He claims his staff signed up thousands of people, at no charge to them. The insurance companies simply paid Cashion commission per account.
From a business perspective, Cashion questions the effectiveness of the Fed's plan.
"They did educate people. But for what they spent on this, it's quite a bit of money," he says.
McKinney says his organization did exactly what the Feds expected them to do. And a News 8 analysis shows the UWTC did perform better enrolling people than some other Texas agencies, based on how much federal funding they received. In total, the US Department of Health and Human Services gave eight grants to Texas agencies.
If they were to get the grant again, McKinney says, "I'm sure there would be things we would do differently."
And with people like Olga Castillo still uninsured, there clearly remains a need to both educate and enroll.