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Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Survey: Progress In Enrolling California Uninsured


Still Uninsured

Even though the state exceeded its own expectations for coverage, more than 40 percent of those previously uninsured still don’t have health insurance, according to the survey. Some said they didn’t enroll because of the cost, while others feared that signing up would bring attention to their family’s immigration status. Those who are in the U.S. illegally are not eligible for coverage.

The remaining uninsured may be hard to reach. More than 80 percent either have never been covered or haven’t had a plan in at least two years, the survey found. About 60 percent are Latino.

“It would be nice to have coverage,” said Steve Mercill, 59, who most of his life has worked jobs that didn’t offer coverage. He is now a paid caregiver for his father, a retired doctor, in a small town near the Oregon border.

Mercill tried to purchase a plan through Covered California last year but said he couldn’t get the website to work and couldn’t get the help he needed through the call center. He plans to try again in the fall.

The Kaiser Family Foundation survey focused on those without coverage last fall, before open enrollment.

Kominski of UCLA said that by focusing only on those who were previously uninsured, the survey doesn’t paint a complete picture: While some people gained coverage, others lost it.

“There is churn in the health care system and this study does not account for that,” he said.

Aggressive Enrollment

Before the nation’s health law took effect, California had the highest number of uninsured in the nation, coming from highly diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultures. But the state embraced Obamacare before most others and was the first to create a state-run insurance exchange.

Though there were some initial technical problems in the enrollment process, they were fewer and less severe than those in the federal exchange and other states. In addition, the hospitals, community clinics and social services offices were aggressive in enrolling those eligible for Medi-Cal.

Tue, Jul 29 2014

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