UCLA Health Policy brief details the shortage of dentists in California.  Dentists complained about the termination of Denti-Cal and the economic downturn as possible reasons for the shortage.  Denti-Cal will be partially restored starting May 1, 2014.

Covered California is California’s Health Benefits Exchange.  You can apply three ways: 1) online; 2) call 1-800-300-1506; or 3) search for local help in your neighborhood.

Deadline is March 31st.

How do I get information about Covered California?

Covered California is a health benefit exchange enacted in response to the 2010 Affordable Care Act that provides private health plans at good value.  You can find more information directly on the Covered California website, which includes a helpful “Shop and Compare Tool” that allows comparisons of health plans.

Consumers can use the tool to choose the coverage that works best for their needs and budget. Each plan is required to provide Essential Health Benefits, including ER services, maternity, newborn care and prescription drugs.

How can I enroll for Covered California?

There are several avenues to enroll in Covered California:

1.  Online at the Covered California website, which provides information about each health insurance plan in clear and simple terms

2. Over the phone by calling the Covered California Customer Call Center at (888) 975-1142

3. In  person at your County Human Services agency or via Certified Enrollment Counselors at community organizations

What are important deadlines I need to know?

If you did not enroll to have coverage starting January 1, 2014, you can still get covered. Open enrollment extends through March 31, 2014, so you can still get coverage starting in February, March, April or May. The ACA requires most people to enroll by March 31, 2014 or fax a tax penalty. Click here to see the chart for deadlines.

My organization or workplace is interested in a presentation about Covered California. Where do I find that?
Legal Services of Northern California-Health offers in-person outreaches about Covered California, the Affordable Care Act, and health consumer self-advocacy. If interested, call us at 1-888-354-4474  to set up a presentation.
Someone reached out to me saying that they are a Certified Enrollment Counselor. Is there a way I can verify their identity?
Yes! You can find the full list of Certified Enrollment Counselors online on the Covered California website.

If you are uninsured and seeking insurance, you can still apply today.  If you are low income, you might be eligible for free Medi-Cal.  As of January 1st, the Medi-Cal program expanded to cover millions of Californians who are low income.  Apply at your local county welfare office or through Covered California’s website.   If you make too much money to qualify for Medi-Cal, there’s still time to apply for insurance through Covered California. Covered California is enrolling Californians through March 31st.  You can apply online; through the Covered California Service Center (1-800-300-1506); or by contacting a Certified Enrollment Counselor in your area.

If you have trouble accessing services or were denied, you can always call Legal Services of Northern California at 1-888-354-4474 for free legal help.

Out2Enroll is a new website dedicated to answering questions about health care for LGBT Americans.  Out2Enroll provides information about the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare.”

Covered California (the Exchange) is accepting applications now.  Covered California is the new health marketplace where you can select a health plan and receive help to  pay for the monthly costs.  Californians with incomes between 138% to 400% of Federal Poverty Level might be eligible for large monthly discounts, through advanced premium tax credits.  Check out Covered California’s website for more information:  www.CoveredCA.com

In California, only sixteen of the 58 counties have an adequate supply of physicians.  A fact amplified considering that 30 percent of physicians are nearing retirement; and Medi-Cal is expanding to include an additional million plus patients.  Read the full article here.

The Commonwealth Fund and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research recently released a new study, Undocumented and Uninsured: Barriers to Affordable Care for Immigrant Populations. The analysis explains that in spite of the Affordable Care Act’s goal of providing affordable and quality health care coverage for all, undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. are largely excluded from the benefits of the law. Some of the findings of the report include:

  • An estimated 61.5% (three-fifths) of nonelderly adults who are undocumented immigrants will remain uninsured. As a result, undocumented immigrants are expected to comprise a larger share of the remaining uninsured in the U.S.
  • In states with the highest concentration of undocumented immigrants, (e.g., California) undocumented immigrants will make up (two-fifths) of all uninsured residents.
  • Although most undocumented immigrants are in working families, they face significant access to care barriers. Possible strategies for improving care to undocumented individuals include: increasing access to certain high-value services through low-cost or free care to the uninsured, expanding insurance options to undocumented residents, and increasing subsidies to safety-net providers in communities with significant populations of immigrants to provide uncompensated or low-cost health services.

The complete study can also be found here.

NCLR released a series of fact sheets in response to the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor.   Windsor struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and allows same-sex married couples equal treatment by the federal government.  NCLR created factsheets detailing the implications of Medicare, FAFSA, bankruptcy, Social Security and more.  Click here to see them all!

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has issued an official guidance making it clear that same-sex partners and others must be given equal visitation rights at long-term care facilities, regardless of their marital status. This new guidance applies to all long-term care facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding, including nursing homes and hospice facilities. The guidance states that all patients in these facilities must be given the right to receive visitors of their choosing, regardless of whether the patient and visitors have a legally recognized or biological relationship. The guidance explicitly states that discrimination against the same-sex spouse or partner seeking to visit a patient is prohibited.