Today is a day for the history books. Obamacare enrollment has arrived, and millions of uninsured Americans will have access to affordable, quality health care.
There are still voices in Washington fighting to take that away, but we are ready to take them head on and do our part to realize the promise of Obamacare for every American who stands to gain from the law.
Ajay Lawson, a 20 year-old student with asthma, is one of those Americans. Even though Ajay is relatively young and healthy, she still has medical needs due to her condition. And every time she has complications, she tries to avoid going doctor (or worse, the emergency room), because she can't afford to pay.
Like millions of uninsured Americans, Ajay tries to avoid the doctor when she's sick. Today, for many of those Americans, things are going to change.
In California, nearly 1.7 million lower-income Californians will gain access to Medi-Cal, where they can get low- to no-cost health coverage. Another 2.6 million Californians will be eligible for financial help to purchase private health insurance through our state's marketplace, Covered California. And millions more will benefit from consumer protections that ban discrimination because of pre-existing conditions and eliminate yearly limits on coverage.
California has led the way in implementing these changes, and today, we're ready to hit the ground running. That's why I want to put yesterday's debates aside and focus on what truly matters: getting Californians covered.
Obamacare is putting health coverage within reach for people who can't afford it. Now, it's up to us to get informed, get enrolled, and get covered. Almost everyone knows someone who needs insurance. And for the promise of Obamacare to succeed, everyone needs to do their part to reach every eligible person who can benefit. Below are the basics for Californians; if you live outside California, check www.healthcare.gov to find health care options in your state.
- Covered California's online marketplace, www.coveredca.com, can help you determine if you qualify for Medi-Cal or a health plan through private insurance.
- You may qualify for Medi-Cal if you're a single U.S. citizen or permanent resident and make about15,900 a year or less (32,500 a year or less for a family of four). Medi-Cal provides complete health coverage, often at no cost to the consumer.
- If you aren't eligible for Medi-Cal, you may qualify for financial help when buying a private health insurance plan through Covered California. To qualify for financial assistance, you can make between15,900 and about46,000 (between about32,500 and94,200 for a family of four)
- The enrollment period for Covered California is October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. Medi-Cal enrollment is always open.
It is a daunting task to enroll everyone -- California alone has nearly 7 million uninsured, nearly 6 million of whom will be eligible for some of the benefits above. But if everybody pitches in, we can work to make significant strides.
But it's up to us to help make it happen. Spread the word and share the information with your co-workers, friends, neighbors, family members and strangers; tell them about the opportunity to #getcovered and join the conversation on social media.
One day, we will all look back and see this day as a giant step forward in building a country where no one has to go without health care. This is our time to make a difference and do our part. Be a part of that history.