Oct 01 2013
The majority of bankruptcies among Americans stem from unexpected medical expenses. Uninsured people being struck by serious illnesses are often driven out of their homes, lose all their assets and savings, and/or fall deep into debt to pay doctor’s bills.
That could change within the next year as uninsured Americans will be able to purchase individual health plans through state-run exchanges that officially go online today. The health insurance exchanges are part of the controversial health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and they are the most significant milestone of the act to take effect.
Opposition to the law among Republicans is so great that GOP House members have brought the government to a stand-still over it. But, the train has left the station, so-to-speak, and today millions of Americans are eligible for plans they may not have had access to before. However, the Republican opposition has had one particularly strong effect – and that is to create confusion about the act. A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 40% of Californians believe that the act has been overturned.
The same poll also revealed that 50% don’t understand how it will impact them personally, and nearly 75% of people who would be eligible for subsidies to purchase insurance were not aware of their eligibility.
Of all 50 states, California has most strongly embraced Obamacare and this state’s insurance exchange, called Covered California, has opened up 3 call centers around the state to field phone calls. The stakes in California are high, with about 15% of all uninsured people in the nation residing in California. That works out to about 7 million Californians.
GUEST: Dr. Paul Song, radiation oncologist and a member of the faculty at the Samuel Oschin Cancer Center at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He is also a visiting fellow with the California Department of Insurance on healthcare policy and on the board of Physicians for a National Health Program, and People for the American Way and he is the Executive Chairman of the Courage Campaign
FOR CALIFORNIANS: Go to www.coveredca.com or call 888-975-1142.
Call centers are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday,
What to have ready when you apply:
1. Number of people being enrolled, with their birth dates
2. Social Security numbers for each family member
3. Home ZIP code
4. Most recent income tax filings, including those filed by dependents
5. Legal information, such as your immigration number
6. Federally recognized tribe status information