Executives with Covered California held an ethnic media roundtable to give an overview of its upcoming open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which opens on November 1 and closes on January 31.
Dr. Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace for consumers, detailed the importance of Blacks having access to quality and affordable health care.
Dr. Robert Ross, president and CEO of the California Endowment, discussed why, despite numerous attempts, President Donald Trump’s administration has not been able to eradicate the ACA.
Pres. Barack Obama passed the groundbreaking health care law in 2010. California was the first in the nation to enact legislation creating a health benefit exchange under the federal health care reform, noted Covered California.
From 2012 to 2016, the rate of uninsured Californians dropped from 17 percent to seven percent, according to the exchange.
Blacks, like other ethnicities, are unaware of the financial help available, according to Lee. He stated that Blacks make up approximately five percent of the 60 percent subsidy eligible enrollments.
Covered California urges Blacks to take the six steps to health insurance:
-Shop and compare;
-Get help by going online for free assistance (www.coveredca.com);
-Review option and compare costs;
-Set up online or mail payment options; and
-Start using coverage.
Nationwide enrollment ends on December 15, but California’s runs six months, Lee noted.
“The main message we have is that we’re rock solid. We’re stable in California. When you sign up for coverage, you are rock solid,” he continued.
Although Pres. Trump cut ACA outreach funding, from $100 million last year to $10 million this year, Californians will still have the financial support and coverage they can afford, Lee encouraged.
Thus far, Covered California has attributed its success to broad support from elected officials and community partners, including ethnic media.
It’s Black media campaign has worked through radio, newspapers, TV advertisements, and internet outreach, among other things.
“For those of you who have covered L.A. specific health and African American health issues, what has gone kind of quietly and under the radar screen, and relatively so, because we’ve had the great success in California with Obamacare and Medical expansion, but we have a first-class community hospital in Martin Luther King Medical Center,” Ross stated.
Before expressing a note of thanks to Black media for their outreach efforts, Ross took the opportunity to note that it, as well as Charles R. Drew, which also experienced some difficulties, are now thriving in very positive ways.
Dr. Stanley Frencher, Jr., director of Surgical Outcomes and Quality for King Community Hospital, detailed how the federal Patient Protection and ACA has positively impacted and improved services to its patients.
He spoke a 71-year-old patient as a highlight of the types of benefits experienced through the ACA, said Frencher.
He went to Frencher’s clinic with his wife and daughter, after an emergency room visit for kidney stones, the medical director stated.
The patient was happy to see he’d have a Black urologist, he said. They talked about potential treatment options, and was still nervous about the tiny stone, because doctors had advised he didn’t need treatment, Frencher said.
The patient’s wife spoke up and indicated she had a tiny stone, but doctors also told her nothing was wrong. She lost her kidney because the stone she had 10 years prior wasn’t treated, in part because she didn’t have insurance.
“Ultimately, she has a scar as a result of it. Not just the scar from the surgery, but a scar from that experience, and so she didn’t trust the system,” Frencher stated.
They worked through that and the patient did get treatment, because he had insurance under the ACA’s health expansion. His experience is emblematic of the benefits of health insurance, but an insurance card alone is only a ticket. It doesn’t guarantee access, Frencher stated.
“Clearly, health is more than just about health care, and while we increasingly recognize that health care needs to extend beyond the walls of our hospitals … so does our ability to sign people up, educate them, get them help to see physicians,” Frencher said.