Highview Insurance Group’s Mission: Bridging the Healthcare Gap in Waco
Continuous Medicaid coverage ended on March 31, 2023, causing 1 out of 50 Texas residents to lose their health insurance. Tory Schafer, owner of Highview Insurance Group, has made it his goal to get as many people in the Waco community as possible signed up for insurance.
Medicaid is a government program that covers 100 percent of a patient’s medical bills. During COVID-19, people who were enrolled in Medicaid were allowed to keep their coverage without re-enrollment each year. With Medicaid unwinding, 650,000 people will become uninsured.
“Texas historically has an uninsured rate of 21 percent, so that means 21 out of every 100 lives in Texas is uninsured, but because of this medicaid unwinding, the medicaid enrollment lowered to 19 percent. What’s happening is that it’s snapping back to 21 percent,” Schafer said.
The insurance enrollment period starts November 1st and ends January 15th, but the government has issued a special 12-month enrollment period that allows anyone who lost Medicaid this year to pick up coverage. There are also special enrollment periods based on income or for life events, such as relocation.
“My job is educating the community because my personal belief is that 1 out of 20 people in Waco, 25 percent of the people who are uninsured, are eligible for no-cost marketplace health insurance. They could get zero-dollar health coverage. People just don’t know how to enroll or don’t see that value, so that’s my job. I’m going after those people so we can get them insured,” Schafer said.
Schafer considers helping people receive access to healthcare his greatest contribution to the community. He helps people get connected with federal assistance to get them on programs that will pay for their medical care.
“So we have partnerships to get people off the waitlist and into substance abuse treatment. Instead of living in addiction while they’re on a waitlist, they can get access to the care they need. I have at least a few dozen stories of people that I have helped get surgery to allow them to get back to work or get out of pain. A lot of the community would benefit from what we’re doing,” he said.
After getting his bachelor’s degree in finance, Schafer did not want to limit himself to only working with people in a high tax bracket. Opting for the chance to work with a greater diversity of people, he chose the insurance business.
“I have a real passion for helping others with their finances, but I didn’t want to necessarily be a financial advisor. I have a business where I can work with anyone, regardless of income. That was something that was really attractive to me,” he said.
Schafer’s desire to help others is shown through the structure of his insurance company. Highview Insurance Group has 1 full-time agent and 1 part-time agent, both salaried.
“The agents that I hire are salaried by Highview. That’s an important thing. My agents don’t work on commissions; they just do their job. They’re not trying to sell, sell, sell, trying to make as much money as they can. They are getting a good job with good benefits,” he said.
Schafter’s company structure is influenced by his own experience as an insurance agent. After only making twelve thousand dollars his first year working as an agent, he decided to create a more pleasant experience for his employees.
“I don’t want anyone I hire to experience what I did. I want them to have a comfortable place where they can learn and grow and actually enjoy being an insurance agent instead of having their backs up against the wall trying to make more money,” Schafer said.
Running a business has allowed him to meet other members of the community, including the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president, Andrea Kosar, who convinced him to join the organization.
“Andrea invited me to join, and I wanted to network with other local small businesses,” he said. “The Spanish-speaking community is one of the most underserved in Waco…so access to healthcare is very weak. That’s something I have a real marketing focus on, so I want to get connected with other businesses that have Spanish-speaking employees to build some connections with the [Hispanic] community.”
In an effort to connect with the Spanish-speaking community, Schafer has hired a Spanish-speaking employee to help him with enrollments in Spanish.
“My goal in general is to just continue enrollment and continue to educate people to continue to be a viable resource. [Having a Spanish-speaking employee] wasn’t something I could offer before. I tell people the first five people I hire are going to be bilingual, so my goal is building up a team of agents,” he said.
The desire to help others is the strongest motivating factor moving Highview Insurance Group forward. Schafer credits his faith.
“My faith is going to be my key driver for the need to give back to the community and why I want to serve the people I serve,” Schafer said. “I’m a Christian, and I just feel that that’s what I’m called to do. To serve the sick and the poor, and that’s really what I’m building my business around.”
Gennesis Gonzalez is a communications intern at the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She studies professional writing and rhetoric at Baylor University. Her areas of focus are writing, research, communications, and marketing. Originally from Houston, TX, Gennesis has previously worked as an administrative assistant at EIC Surveying and a communications intern at Advance Economic Strategies.
As a professional writing student at Baylor University, she has helped nonprofit organizations with their communications needs. Working in the nonprofit sector fulfills her need to help the community. As a writer for the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, she finds fulfillment in meeting members of the community and writing their stories.
When Gennesis is not working or in school, she's out in the community trying new restaurants or spending time with her two chihuahuas, Francesca and Camila.