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California saw huge surge of health insurance enrollment under ACA

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Cabe Chadick
More Californians support health insurance laws these days
More Californians support health insurance laws these days

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act brought health coverage to millions of Americans through its mandated exchanges and expansion of individual states' Medicaid programs, but the improvements in enrollment numbers have varied significantly from one part of the country to the next. However, in one state in particular it seems that the health care law was particularly effective in bringing coverage to millions of residents.

Today, millions of people in the state of California now have health insurance, and a large percentage of that number came as a result of the ACA's rules that allowed for broader expansion of coverage, according to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The numbers break down more or less evenly between those who are currently enrolled in the state's Medicaid Program (1.6 million) and its own health insurance exchange, Covered California (1.4 million). Still more got coverage from employers and other sources. Altogether, that constitutes about 58 percent of those who did not have health insurance of any kind prior to the ACA's "open enrollment" period. The remaining 42 percent still don't have coverage for one reason or another.

In fact, some 25 percent of those who did not have insurance before got it through Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, the report said. Another 9 percent enrolled in the state exchange. Further, 12 percent say they were able to get coverage through their work, and 5 percent are enrolled in independent group plans.

A demographic breakdown
Interestingly, 61 percent of Hispanic Californians who were eligible for financial assistance when signing up for the exchanges say that they were able to obtain coverage either through Medicaid or Covered California, the report said. Likewise, 58 percent of young adults between the ages of 19 and 34, and 53 percent of those who say they're in poor or fair health have been able to obtain coverage as well.

Further, it seems that the state's efforts to get the word out about eligibility paid off big-time, the report said. In all, 69 percent of those polled who were contacted by the state about signing up chose to do so. That compares favorably with the 52 percent of people who weren't contacted, but signed up anyway.

Health insurers have likely seen that more consumers are enjoying the benefits of obtaining coverage. As such, they might want to find ways to encourage even more people who don't have policies of their own to find the most affordable and reasonable options available.

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