The Affordable Care Act, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014, will make health insurance more accessible and affordable with expanded Medi-Cal services, a marketplace for consumers to purchase federally subsidized plans with private insurers, and bans on lifetime and annual coverage caps and penalizations for pre-existing conditions.
According to Cecilia Espinola, director of the Santa Cruz County Department of Human Services, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act could potentially benefit some 30,000 county residents who are currently underinsured, or completely uninsured.
“The goal is to create a communitywide culture of coverage,” she said.
Espinola said that those seeking advice and counseling as to their options had a multitude of county health and community organizations that are certified educators.
Dr. Jose Chibras, a representative of Salud Para La Gente — one of 19 organizations certified to advise clients about the Affordable Care Act, described the act as “the greatest expansion of health care in two generations.”
According to Espinola, the outreach programs are being funded in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties through 2014 by a $500,000 federal grant and will offer information and counseling in both individual and group settings.
“We want people to have more conversations,” she said. “The more we know about the Affordable Care Act, the better.”
For information about the Affordable Care Act, as well as how to apply and how to contact local agencies, visit www.coveredca.com.
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