The American Heart Association’s policy goals are to promote access to health coverage for all Americans and implementation of health reform on the state level. Supporting implementation of the Affordable Care Act will help us reach these significant policy outcomes. The new year has just begun, but the countdown to 2014 has already started. When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, it was difficult to understand the expansion of health coverage and what that entailed. However, as October 2013 is coming up, there has been progress in implementing the most significant health care reform since 1965, when Medicare and Medicaid were enacted.
The State of California is reforming its health care system through Covered California, which plans to reach more than 5.3 million Californians as of January 2014. Covered California’s goals include strengthening the health care delivery system, promoting affordability for consumers and small employers, and requiring that health care service plans competition be based on price, quality and service. This, along with subsidies for some plans purchased through Covered California, is good news for many Californians. To be more precise, 2.6 million Californians will qualify for subsidies through Covered California, and 2.7 million will be guaranteed health coverage (whether it be through Covered California or not). Of those who qualify, nearly 50% are Latino and 33% are Caucasian; 780,000 of these subsidy eligible individuals reside in Los Angeles alone.
So, how is Covered California going to reach these people? There will be a customer service center, whose staff speaks 12 languages, to work to reduce the number of medically uninsured Californians. These staff members will be just a phone call away to help eligible individuals and small employers understand their insurance options. The enrollment period for Covered California begins on October 1, 2013 – 90 days before the Affordable Care Act officially goes into effect.
- Lena Lam, Greater Bay Area Advocacy Intern