SACRAMENTO, CA - Are you prepared for the new federal health care laws going into effect next year?
Per the federal health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as of Jan. 1, 2014, most adults will be required to have public or private insurance or you may be fined. In addition, all newly sold insurance plans must meet certain requirements.
What is Covered California?
Covered California is California's new health insurance exchange. It was created to help increase the number of insured residents by keeping costs affordable.
Covered California opens for enrollment on Oct. 1 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
Dana Howard with Covered California said there are about 5.3 million Californians who are both uninsured and insured who will benefit from enrolling in the program's "affordable" coverage options.
"We believe that people don't have insurance because they can't afford it, and so this is really a game changer," Howard said.
So who is eligible?
Any legal resident of California is eligible for Covered California. Small employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees also will be able to purchase insurance through Covered California.
Essential health benefits like doctors visits, hospital stays, maternity care and prescriptions must be covered under the Affordable Care Act. All health insurance plans must also provide care for individuals and their families even if someone has a pre-existing health condition.
How much will you have to pay?
For those who qualify for regular coverage, there are four basic levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Platinum being the plan with the highest premium, Bronze being the lowest. As your coverage increases, so does your monthly payment, but your costs are lower when you receive medical care.
On Covered California's website, there is a calculation tool to help you make an "apples-to-apples" comparison of the various coverage plans.
Depending on your annual income and the number of people living in your household, you may be eligible for financial assistance like Medi-Cal.
"We expect that about 1.4 million Californians will be newly eligible for medical because of the expansion," Howard said.
If you have questions, a handful of call centers have been set up across the state. Nearly 500 certified agents and enrollment counselors will be available to answer questions about the new exchange program. To speak with a Covered California representative call (888) 975-1142.
Visit www.CoveredCA.com to sign up or for more information.