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Less Than One Month Out - Can We Do It?

Covered California, the healthcare marketplace for the state envisioned by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), just released new ads to get people to enroll in new health insurance coverage.  

The ads are a concrete reminder that we are getting close to the real start of Obamacare, which has our attention here at Next Generation. 

As the ACA unfolds, we will be watching, and writing about what this transition will mean for the millions of people in California who need health insurance and will soon be able to get it.  Because the ACA represents a massive change to the way health care works in this country, as well as a huge lift for California families, we see a lot to write about.

First, and most obviously, health insurance improves children’s and adult’s health and well-being because it helps them obtain necessary preventive services.  People live longer and healthier when they can get medical care. Up to 3.7 million Californians may enroll in health coverage as a result of the new law.

Secondly, kids with a regular source of health care can concentrate on learning. Children with health insurance miss fewer days of school than their uninsured peers, and there is even evidence that health coverage improves a child’s math and reading scores, areas of particular concern for California educators.  

To help students and their families get enrolled, the Children’s Partnership just announced it is partnering with schools and childcare centers to get the word out about the new coverage.

Finally, the ACA holds tremendous potential for the parents and families of California’s children.  Most parents who did not previously have access to health insurance will now have a chance, and research suggests that once insured, they will be more likely to access care for themselves and their children.  

Parents who are lucky enough to have health insurance through an employer feel freer to change jobs without losing coverage.  Those who need or choose to reduce work hours to care for a child or family member will now have better options to maintain coverage.

Overall, the Affordable Care Act offers the promise of more stability to millions of California families, which will mean better outcomes for our children. 

Yet the challenges of implementing the ACA are undeniably huge, and the timeframe for changing the landscape of health care was, and remains, very short.  California’s complex system of state and county agencies makes the job harder than it is for other states, all of whom have smaller populations to serve. 

One example of this tough transition is early enrollment into new coverage.  According to Covered California’s plans, it should begin “pre-enrolling” those newly eligible for health coverage on October 1st, so that they can begin to access health care services on January 1st.  Applicants should be able to apply online, in person, over the phone, or with the help of trained “certified enrollment counselors” who can help them through the process of enrolling. 

As October approaches, however, the plans are beginning to shift. Covered California has begun to indicate that early enrollment might be a tad late, that one part of the network of certified enrollment counselors (those called “navigators”) won’t be ready, and some counties have indicated that the rules governing the Medi-Cal expansion may not be written in time.

Despite the challenges, Next Generation’s California team is hopeful that new insurance coverage options for millions will ultimately translate to better care, creating a climate for a healthier, happier, more productive future.

A worthy goal no matter the bumps along the way.

Next Generation’s California program analyzes and promotes ways to improve the lives of young children and families living in California, with a focus on early learning, early health, and family supports. 

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