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Survey: Progress In Enrolling California Uninsured

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“It seems like I am just hitting closed doors,” she said last week. “I don’t know what’s up.”

‘A Huge Relief’

Despite an early lag in Latino enrollment, the survey found that more than half of previously uninsured Latinos ultimately got coverage.

“It’s a huge relief,” said Newport Beach restaurateur Sandra Lopez, a 41-year-old Mexican immigrant who enrolled her family, including a young adult son with epilepsy, in a subsidized private plan through California’s exchange.

The state’s far-reaching efforts to spread the word about the law and get people signed up made a difference, researchers said. About 60 percent of Medi-Cal or Covered California enrollees had someone help them sign up. About seven in ten uninsured Californians who were contacted about signing up did so, compared to about half of people who were not contacted.

“Outreach was such an important predictor in whether an uninsured person got health insurance or not,” Brodie said. But friends and family did not have much of an impact on whether people enrolled.

Meifeng Lui, 52, said her family of five had been uninsured for four years because they could not afford coverage. Lui said she was “very grateful and so blessed” that the enrollment counselors spoke their language at the Chinese Community Health Plan in San Francisco and helped her enroll in a private plan through Covered California. 

“I was so happy because someone knew what to do,” said Lui.

When Maria Garcia decided to enroll under Obamacare, she sought help from a counselor at the Ravenswood Family Health Center near her home in East Palo Alto.

She didn't feel comfortable navigating Covered California’s site. Within hours, she said, the counselor helped her settle on a Kaiser Permanente plan, for which she'd pay just $36 a month thanks to a subsidy from the state.

According to the survey, most of those who got insurance said their plan is “a good value” for what they pay but nearly half of people who got plans other than Medi-Cal said that it has been difficult to afford the coverage.

Researchers found stark differences in how people signed up for Medi-Cal versus the subsidized private plans in Covered California. More than half of Medi-Cal recipients enrolled in person, compared to 15 percent over the Internet. More than half of Covered California enrollees, however, signed up over the Internet, compared to 15 percent in person.

The researchers surveyed 2,001 uninsured Californians last summer, then conducted a second round of interviews with many of the same people this spring. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points. For subgroups sampled, the margins were slightly larger.

 

Sarah Varney, Daniela Hernandez and Heidi de Marco contributed reporting. 

Tue, Jul 29 2014

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