California Faces Several Unique Challenges in ACA Implementation
California faces several challenges in implementing the Affordable Care Act, and many of those hurdles are unique to the state, KPCC's "Take Two" reports.
On Jan. 1, 2014, the ACA will take full effect (O'Neill, "Take Two," KPCC, 6/14).
According to federal officials, California has the country's largest health insurance market and about six million uninsured residents, making it a crucial place for ACA implementation.
The Obama administration seeks to have about seven million individuals across the U.S. enroll in state health insurance exchanges. Officials say that about 2.6 million of them need to be young and healthy individuals to help keep costs down for the overall pool of enrollees. Nearly one-third of such young individuals live in California, Florida and Texas.
Meanwhile, the White House says that the ACA will give coverage opportunities to more than 10 million uninsured Latinos, many of whom live in California (California Healthline, 6/10).
Details of Challenges
Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said, "The immediate challenge is educating people and having people become aware that if you're uninsured or underinsured, you now have an opportunity to get health insurance coverage and you're actually mandated to get it as well."
Jeff Goldsmith -- president of Health Futures -- said, "This is an incredibly diverse complex state." He said, "All the complexities of a large industrial nation reside here. You've got all of the language issues, you've got the tremendous ethnic and cultural diversity ... There's no such thing as 'a' Californian."
Peter Lee -- executive director of Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange -- said it is going to be "a huge task" to reach everyone, from non-English speakers to residents in geographically isolated areas. More than 100 languages are spoken across the state.
Andrea Rosen -- interim health plan management director for Covered California -- said, "We have a lot of people who are spending a lot of time going through those details and planning to make sure we have language interpretation services available."
Another challenge will be in encouraging enough younger, healthy residents to sign up for health coverage to balance out enrollees who have more costly health conditions to cover, according to Pan.
Susan Dentzer -- senior policy adviser for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation -- said one way to reach the estimated two million uninsured Californians between the ages of 19 to 34 is to market the ACA to women.
She said that "we know most of the health care decisions, frankly, are made in the country by women on behalf of their families and their loved ones" ("Take Two," KPCC, 6/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.