Affordable Care Act coverage starts soon

September 24, 2013 9:42:25 AM PDT
Beginning Jan. 1, all Americans will be required to have health care coverage. It's the law. Starting next week, you can sign up for health care coverage if you don't already have it. ABC7 News wants to make sure you understand your choices, and beginning today, we'll take a look at what you can expect from health care reform.

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act back in 2010, but it's just now becoming a reality. It hasn't been without controversy. A number of parties, including the state of Florida, sued the federal government. They claimed the sweeping health care reform law was illegal.

But last year, the Supreme Court decided the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. It paved the way for the biggest overhaul to the American health care system since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid nearly 50 years ago.

"Covered California is how the Affordable Care Act is playing out here in California, Covered California spokesperson Peter Lee said.

Covered California is a state-run agency created to ensure California's uninsured get coverage. Five million, three-hundred thousand Californians currently do not have any medical insurance.

Beginning Oct. 1, California residents can choose between four different levels of coverage offered by local and national insurance companies. Depending on which one you choose, those plans cover 60-90 percent of your medical claims. You cannot be denied coverage.

"Today, health insurance companies can deny people if they had asthma, diabetes, cancer. In this new world, under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies have to take everybody," Lee said.

Whether it is through your employer or Covered California, you must sign up for health care coverage. If you don't you will be fined 1 percent of your income or $95, whichever is greater.

"So, if you make $30,000, you'll pay a penalty a penalty of $300," Lee said.

To help take the sting out paying for this insurance, more than half of uninsured Californians will qualify for financial assistance to help pay for their insurance coverage. For the first year, the program will be paid for by federal grants. After that, premiums paid by insured Californians will keep the program afloat.

"So really the success of covered California is about getting all Californians enrolled," Lee said.

If you currently have medical insurance from your employer, Medicare, Medicaid, or MediCal, you won't have to choose from one of the state plans. What will you get from those four plans and what will it cost you? We'll tell you tomorrow on ABC7 News at 6 p.m.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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