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    Covered California: Older Jump In First, But Officials Buoyed By Number Of Young Enrollees


    He has a long list of health issues, including acid reflux, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and high blood pressure. He takes about 18 pills each day, and many of his prescriptions will run out in January. He has been denied coverage in the past but now pays about $500 a month for insurance through a special program for people with preexisting illnesses.

    Horn, 60, went onto the website on Oct. 1 but got an error message when he tried to enroll. He spent weeks trying to sign up online and over the phone before the application finally went through this week. His new plan under Covered California will cost $74 a month – a dramatic savings.

    “I am definitely eager and anxious,” he said. Horn said he can’t afford to pay his last two months of premiums and has already made medical appointments for January, when his new coverage begins.

    Larry Kaplan, who lives in Los Angeles, is also looking forward to January. Kaplan, 60, signed up this month for a plan under Covered California, which will save him about $300 a month. Kaplan began paying for his own health policy after losing his job and his insurance several years ago.

    Kaplan said he is overweight and has high blood pressure and high cholesterol. “I am in pretty good health, but I have the typical chronic things people my age have,” he said.

    Health advocates said they plan to use the demographics data as a guidepost to see where outreach is working and where more is needed. They also urged against drawing too many conclusions from the numbers, saying that Californians still have more than four months left to sign up.

    "The first inning of a baseball game rarely tells you what the final score is going to be," said Anthony Wright, executive director of the consumer group Health Access.

    It is too soon to know whether the state will have the right mix of young and old, healthy and unhealthy to make the marketplace financially viable, researchers said.

    “It’s still really the early days,” Mulkey said of the California HealthCare Foundation. “There is a long time before this is all done.”

    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

    Thu, Nov 21 2013

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