Covered california state health care proposal
A new state health care plan sent by California for federal approval last week would be the first state exchange implementation of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, which passed in 2010.
Would expand Medi-Cal to cover families earning less than 138 percent of federal poverty level income
Expected to cover 2 million more people in CA, out of 6.8 million currently uninsured
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times; Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies at UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
Compiled by Katherine Hafner, Bruin senior staff.
Californians may soon have more options for health insurance coverage under Covered California, a program that will create a marketplace where people can view all of their insurance options and purchase the health care that best suits their needs.
The program aims to increase the number of insured people in California and make health insurance more accessible and affordable for Californians, according to its website.
It was sent to the federal government for approval last week.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ““ commonly known as Obamacare ““ passed in 2010. It increases the number of Americans with health care coverage by requiring people to have insurance, and it prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions. The law also allows children to stay on parents’ health plans until age 26, according to Daily Bruin archives.
The legislation also asks states to either create their own marketplace for insurance plans, or to participate in a similar program run by the federal government.
California is one of the states to propose a state-run insurance exchange, among with 18 other states, including Maryland, Colorado, New York and Oregon, according to the federal health care website.
UC students are already required to buy insurance ““ through the UC Student Health Insurance Plan, or under another provider ““ under University policy.
“The staff and faculty members (at the UC) have really great health insurance,” said Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “The UC system (in which) we get to choose different plans … is very close to what the change is going to look like.”
But UCLA students with families are the most likely to find relief under Covered California, because it will make insurance for dependents cheaper, Lavarreda said.
Covered California will also impact individuals who are unemployed or have pre-existing conditions that are not covered by insurance companies, said Russell Korobkin, a professor at the UCLA School of Law.
If it is approved, the plan will start enrolling people in October 2013.
Covered California would expand the California Medical Assistance Program, or Medi-Cal, to cover families earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level income, according to the Los Angeles Times. For instance, a family of four making less than $31,810 would be eligible for Covered California.
There are currently about 6.8 million uninsured individuals in California, Lavarreda said.
She anticipates about 2 million will be directly impacted by Covered California, she said.
“It’s not the majority but it is a good chunk of people who were uninsured before,” Lavarreda said.
Korobkin said he expects most low- and some middle-income families will qualify for subsidies from the federal government when they purchase individual policies within the exchange.
The federal government will distribute subsidies to insurance companies to ensure prices remain stable in the health care market.
Grace Amos, a second-year English student, already receives subsidized insurance from the California Healthy Families Program, a state-run program that offers low-cost insurance.
Though she will not be affected by Covered California, she said the program is still beneficial.
“I think it’s a great idea ““ even if the government does raise taxes, it’s not going to ruin people’s lives,” Amos said. “It’s definitely worth it for the number of people that will get subsidized health care.”
Lavarreda said the program may impact more than California residents if it is successful.
“I do think that if California is able to make it work, (Covered California) will be a model for other states,” she added.
Contributing reports by Lawrence Han, Bruin contributor, and Naheed Rajwani, Bruin senior staff.