Obamacare is around the corner
By Pablo J. Sáinz
In l0ess than a week, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment period goes into effect on October 1st and there is still a lot of misinformation and confusion among ethnic groups in California about the program.
According to an August 2013 survey conducted by The Field Poll for The California Wellness Foundation, ethnic minorities are more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to have a favorable opinion of the so-called Obamacare law, even if they don’t fully understand it.
The poll shows that 66 percent of Latino voters in California support ACA, while 82 percent of African-Americans and 65 percent of Asian-Americans do so.
The results of the poll, along with other information related to public perception of Obamacare, were shared during an ethnic media briefing this week in San Diego organized by New America Media, an association of ethnic media outlets across the United States.
“The Field Poll shows that there’s still a huge gap among health care experts and the public about ACA,” said Sandy Close, executive director of NAM.
She said that ethnic media play a major role in disseminating information about Obamacare among their communities, in which many people do not read or speak English.
The poll also showed that people who speak a language other than English are more likely to want to learn more about the new law.
Also, during the media briefing, Dr. Rodrigo Muñoz, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), said that Obamacare will tackle a major issue among ethnic communities, especially among undocumented immigrants: mental health issues.
Muñoz said that “the mentally ill are some of the most important beneficiaries of the new law. In the past, they had no rights. Discrimination has always existed for them.”
Among the benefits that Obamacare will offer the public are reducing the insurance companies’ enormous profits, reducing the dominance of a few insurance companies in many states, and may return to individuals the management of their health care, Muñoz said.
“If we trust individuals with the ownership of their houses and their cars, with the education of their children, with their vacations, their investment strategies, and decisions about retirement, why not trust them with their health decisions?” asked Muñoz.
Covered California is the name for the state’s online health insurance marketplace. An estimated 1.4 million people are expected to enroll in 2014.
There are 5 easy steps for preparing to enroll through Covered California:
1. Determine your projected income. Your projected income is how much money you will be making next year. You can look up this information on your tax form.
2. Have your social security information on hand.
3. Have your proof of residency.
4. Sign up via Internet. If you don’t have Internet access or prefer doing this in person, you can sit down with a Covered California enrollment counselor and go through the process of enrollment.
5. Set aside time. You need to set aside at least 60 minutes to go trough the information process.
During the media briefing, experts warned about possible Obamacare scams. You can avoid scams by keeping in mind a few simple tips on how to safely enroll in coverage.
1. Enrollment assistance is free for public programs. It doesn’t cost anything to have someone help you apply for Medi-Cal or through Covered California.
2. Protect yourself. Do not give out your private information, unless you have confirmed the person’s authenticity.
The only authorized website for Covered California is www.CoveredCA.com. You can also call 1-888-975-1132.