(Adrian Clark: Flickr)
It’s off to the races now.
With the health overhaul (mostly) upheld by the Supreme Court, the January 1, 2014 deadline for the rollout of the Affordable Care Act is looming — in particular for the board of the Health Benefit Exchange. That’s the group tasked with developing an online marketplace where Californians will be able to buy health insurance. Yesterday, KQED’s Mina Kim attended the board’s first meeting since the ACA was upheld. Today I went to a meeting of the Latino Coalition for a Health California. It was sort of a point-counterpoint experience.
First, from Mina Kim. As she detailed on The California Report:
Hundreds of people packed the auditorium in Oakland yesterday where the Board meeting was held. At issue for many people was that health plans have a standard format so that it’s easy for consumers to compare costs and benefits.
Betsy Imholz, with the advocacy group Consumers Union, told Kim that this is a critical time for the exchange. “It’s where the rubber meets the road … figuring out what plans will be part of the exchange.” Continue reading
There are the politics and the spinning. There’s the talk of improved health outcomes … and then there is the bottom line. What does this mean for the state’s consumers?
The California Health Benefit Exchangeis the most tangible institution that Californians will interact with as a result of the law. Those newly in the market to buy insurance because of ACA, this is your go to shop. Officials estimate that’s around 3 million Californians.
“We look forward to making the purchase of insurance through California’s exchange as easy as buying a book on Amazon or shoes on Zappos,” says Peter Lee, who has been working to set up this online marketplace. Continue reading
For people who don't speak English well, most health care terms are not as easily understandable as this sign. (Elliott Brown: Flickr)
As policy makers work toward setting up the California Health Benefit Exchange–the marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to buy health insurance–they’re grappling with questions on two fronts: what benefits the policies will offer and how to ensure that people enroll. According to a new report, 2.6 million adults under age 65 will be eligible for federal tax credits to buy insurance in this new marketplace. Of those people, 67 percent will be people of color, and 40 percent (or just over one million adults) will speak English less than very well. This lack of English proficiency could be a barrier to these people enrolling in the exchange, according to the report [PDF].
Ellen Wu is Executive Director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, one of the sponsors of the report. “Language poses a barrier when people try to enroll in coverage programs,” she said in an interview. “We know that it’s just confusing for those of us who DO speak English well, and for those who have a different language other than English, it’s even more difficult to first find the materials in their language and second to understand the terminology.” Continue reading