Open enrollment begins Saturday for the Affordable Care Act, the second time Americans will have a chance to sign up for health insurance under what has become known as Obamacare.
President Barack Obama has promised the national health exchange will run a lot smoother this time around, but that won’t affect us here in California, we are on a separate health exchange with Covered California.
CoveredCA.com is already up and running. You can’t sign up until enrollment begins on Saturday, but you can start looking at what plan will be best for you and your family.
One of the biggest changes you’ll notice is how available help is. Covered California has partnered with more than 28,000 professionals that can help you sign up in-person free of charge.
“Our website worked well last year, it’s going to work even better this year. We’ve invested to make sure that when there is a lot of people in one day the system won’t slow down as much,” said Covered California executive director Peter Lee.
CoveredCA.com offers four levels of plans bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
“When we sat down with our plans and negotiated for this year we kicked the tires to some of them and said in some cases they needed to add doctors, needed to add hospitals to make sure there is enough people in across the board,” said Lee.
The website promises to offer a more accurate list of which doctors accept which plans, an easy way to calculate and compare coverage, and there are people to help you navigate through it, on the phone, in person or live online.
“We need to make it easier, we did that in both English and Spanish,” said Lee.
If you have an existing policy through the health exchange there are two options.
“We are making it as easy and simple as possible for them. If they like their plan, they like their doctor, they keep it. They will get a renewal notice in December saying here is your premium, here is the federal support you get to lower the cost, pay your bill you stay in. If you want to shop and change you can do that,” said Lee.
In the first year, the state cut the number of uninsured in half.
“We’ve seen it right here with our own hospital,” said Desert Regional Medical Center CEO Carolyn Cadwell.
Desert Regional Medical Center says the more people who are insured the more it can provide better care.
“We are not providing as much uncompensated care to our community which allows us to have more to be able to put back into the community, more to put back into improving the facilities,” said Cadwell.
“Remember the big glitch is what happens to you if you show up to the emergency room without health insurance, showing up to the doctor and finding out you have cancer and not have the coverage to treat that cancer that is what we wants to make sure no Californian is left without,” said Lee.
Enrollment begins on Saturday and runs through February 15th, but if you want to renew your plan or have coverage start on January first you need to sign up by December 15th.
To sign up click here.