Small number enroll in health insurance exchange

Logo for the state health insurance exchange, Covered California

Covered California, the state-run health insurance exchange established under the Affordable Care Act, released its first set of enrollment data today (Wed/13), providing an initial glimpse of how the program commonly known as Obamacare is working in practice in California.

From Oct. 1 until yesterday (Tue/12), a total of 59,000 enrollees completed applications and enrolled in health insurance plans under Covered California.

As a report in the Sacramento Bee pointed out, that number pales in comparison with the estimated 2.3 million Californians who are expected to enroll for coverage by 2017.

Still, a larger number have begun the process, which entails submitting an application and clearing eligibility criteria before selecting a plan and enrolling. Californians initiated a total of 203,904 applications online, according to state data, reflecting an estimated 370,000 individuals.

Of those, 85,960 individuals were determined to be eligible for Covered California, the state-run marketplace that offers coverage at more affordable rates than conventional insurance plans. Another 72,000 were determined to be eligible for Medi-Cal, a program for low-income residents that was expanded under the Affordable Care Act.  

Despite the low initial enrollment, representatives from the Greenlining Institute and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network welcomed the initial figures as a positive development.

“It’s a great start – and that’s what it is, it’s a start,” said Ellen Wu, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “There was this pent-up demand,” she added. “The majority of people who enrolled are people who don’t qualify for government subsidies but are seeking health insurance because they’ve been turned away or charged an arm and a leg” when seeking coverage elsewhere. “What you’re going to see, come November and December, is people for whom it might not be top-of-mind priority.”

Covered California began accepting applicants on Oct. 1, but the program will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014. Californians who are eligible for coverage will have until the end of March to enroll.

Carla Saporta, Health Policy Director for the Greenlining Institute, emphasized the challenge of reaching out to diverse communities in multiple languages to inform people of their options under the new program. 

“I'm disappointed that they have yet to release enrollment data by demographic,” she noted. “I am particularly interested in knowing the breakdown by region, race and primary language because knowing this information will help with targeting outreach efforts.”

According to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services, California has spent $94 million on outreach to help community groups, local health clinics, and labor unions to make residents aware of their options and sign them up for coverage. 


figures both from CA and other states indicate that the young, healthy people are staying away, while the older, sicker folks are signing up.

The implication of that is obvious i.e. that the claims profile is going to be ugly and that rates will have to be hiked.

This is looking like a real mess.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

More young people will start to sign up once they're educated on the risks of not having insurance.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

I never bothered until my thirties because I was fit, healthy and feckless.

There's a real danger that ObamaCare will become top heavy with exactly the kind of insurees that you do NOT want to have.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 6:55 am

The federal numbers are abysmal. Only 27,000 people have signed up using the federal website. What is that, like the population of Russian Hill?

Posted by The Commish on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

It's more likely to be the people of the wrong side of the railroad tracks in Fresno.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

In other states the ratio of Medicaid to private health insurance is like 80%-20%. Here it's more like 50%-50%, so it's pretty respectable.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

something towards the healthcare they get, rather than getting a free ride at our expense?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

By definition they cannot afford healthcare. Why would you have someone pay for something they're getting as a subsidy from the government in the first place? That's absolutely ridiculous - like applying an extra tax to food stamp purchases - it totally defeats the purpose of a safety net.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

when something is totally free, people take it for granted and demand becomes infinite.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 6:57 am

You want them to hand over a co-pay from their lunch money or the earnings from their lemonade stand?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:30 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:00 am

then do the kids go without treatment?

Kids should not suffer because of their parent's choices. Personally I don't believe mothers should have to work until a child is age 2 and all kids should receive government insurance until they're at least 18.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

I'm sure you can come up with some weepingly sympathetic cases but the bigger point here is the principle - everyone should pay something.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

Especially when they're already below the poverty line. It makes no sense economically.

Do you also support taking Social Security out of monthly Social Security benefits too?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 1:26 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

They're taxable above $25,000 per year.

I asked whether you supported taking FICA (Social Security) out of monthly Social Security benefits. Right now while FICA is subject to income tax, it is not subject to FICA federal withholdings.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

respect of healthcare, that everything being free all the time to everyone leads to waiting lists and (potentially) those "death panels" deciding who gets saved and who does not.

I'd rather everyone paid something where it makes sense.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

why do you care about there be a safety net for the poor? What good is healthcare and food stamps without housing? Just Ellis Act people so you can maximize your profit, the poor can just move elsewhere - isn't that your moto here?

Posted by Guest 3 on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

should not look to the city or govenment to assist with maintaining housing, so why should (s)he care about a social safety net?

Posted by Guest 3 on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

for some people to relocate to a more fiscally viable location than to suck in subsidies from others.

Independence has always been an important American virtue. Living off welfare? Not so much.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

Single payer now.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

While the opposition was so immense that an entire new political party became the fastest growing ever, on the back of that opposition.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 6:58 am

I enrolled in Covered California today. It was a fairly simple process that took about 30 minutes. I enrolled over the telephone.

The ACA is and will be a boon for freelance workers. First, we are among the 7% of Americans who have to buy health insurance in the private market (most people get insurance through their jobs or through Medicare, or are uninsured). Second, those of us who buy insurance in the free market know full well that health insurance costs rise 7-8% annually in the United States.

In the private market, health insurance costs about $400 annually per person for adults. This is up from about $100 in 2000, the first year that I became a freelance worker.

Freelance/independent (artist, in my case) workers pay for all of our Social Security (15%), all of our own healthcare costs, and all of our pension costs. We have much higher costs than people who work for companies. Fortunately, under the Affordable Care Act, your income is based on your "adjusted growth income" (line 37 on Form 1040). Consequently, for the first time in American history, freelance workers will have some tax advantages in the healthcare field.

I am very pleased with the ACA as it will actually lower my health insurance costs.I hope it succeeds. It offers substantial benefits for independent/freelance workers ("the job creators0'.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

Funny, most freelancers (like Ted Rall, who nobody would accuse of being a right-winger), are getting screwed by ObamaCare.

I guess it's only successful freelancers who are getting hosed by the new regime...

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

Both Ted Rall and I are "job creators". We created our own jobs out of thin air and make a living by doing so. We do not depend on others to give us jobs. We did not wait for companies to hand us jobs. We went out and made them for ourselves.

In other words, we are a Republican wet-dream.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:25 am

Everyone has someone ordering you around for money, except those who do not work at all, and they have the government telling them which benefits they can get.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:56 am

Most Americans actually like our broken healthcare system.

People who work for companies or who are on Medicare get "all-you-can-eat" healthcare. You pay your $20 or $30 co-pay and get anything you want ("ask your doctor about FrivulousDrug). About 19% of GDP in the United States is spent on healthcare, compared with only about 10% in other developed countries, but our outcomes are often worse. We have higher obesity , lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates than most OECD countries.
Why is that?
I think I have some unique insight on this matter. First, I have a serious chronic disease, so I am in touch with our healthcare system pretty constantly from the consumer side. Second, I'm a freelance worker (an artist), one of the 7% of Americans who must buy healthcare in the private market. This now cost about $400 per month for adults. Those of you working for companies or on Medicare are shielded from these costs. So you love our broken system.

It is broken because it is based entirely on costs, on billing:

1. The consumer: "I saw an ad on TV asking me to ask you, Dr. Smith, about this new drug called Frumplex, that will keep me from being tired." You are pickled on drugs. You walk in the hospital/clinics and get all the diagnostics and nearly free care that you want. And you take it all for granted.

2. Doctors/clinics: "Yes, come into my office, get lots of diagnostic tests, surgeries, drugs. Because the more you use my services, the more I can bill the health insurer."

3. Health insurers: "Yes, we love the fact that you are getting virtually free drugs, clinical work, diagnostics, surgery, because when the doctors/clinics send us their bills, we simply add 20% and send that bill on to...

4. Companies: "And we don't care about the high costs, either, because it is all tax deductible."

As for Medicare, it is sinking fast.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

system. Although some are disadvantaged by it, that is inevitable anyway. But the good thing with the current system is that if you prioritize getting good insurance over other things, you get superior treatment and outcomes. And I am willing to pay for that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:01 am

You are the beneficiary of an ENTITLEMENT then. Your pay no taxes at all on your health insurance costs ($4,800 annually), which your employer pays and deducts from its taxes. So, yes, you love our broken healthcare system. Why shouldn't you? Its a nice freebee for you.

Most ENTITLEMENTS in the USA are provided for upper-middle-class and richer people. The mortgage tax deduction is a primary example.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:02 am

who pay the most tax, then I'd reply that it cannot be any other way.

You cannot give a big tax break to thosr who don't pay a lot of tax, by definition!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:32 am

There is a difference between a "tax break" and an "entitlement".

A tax break is a direct tax deduction.

An "entitlement" is a free-bee for someone that skewers the tax system, rewarding and gifting someone for doing something that provides no economic benefit for anyone but the entitle-ee.

The Economist has pointed out many times that the best way to get REAL healthcare reform in the USA would be to eliminate the tax deduction on health insurance premiums which is clearly an ENTITLEMENT. That way, corporations (who deduct all the insurance costs from their taxes so don't care about reform) would start screaming for reform.

By the way, freelance workers like me also get this entitlement. I can deduct all of my costs on Line 29 of the Form 1040, which lowers my costs quite a bit. I think this is wrong, too

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:33 am

Social Security and Medicare are not entitlements, they are insurance programs. Receiving more in SS or M payouts than one paid in is no more an entitlement than making an insurance claim that pays out more than you'll ever pay in.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:48 am

usually taken to mean Social security, medicaid and medicare. You can try and argument those are really insurance contracts (the first two anyway) but that argument rapidly falls away since they are massively under-funded and, unless we ratchet up premiums and taxes, they are rapidly becoming an unlimited obligation of the general fund.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:54 am

I agree with all of you that SS and Medicare are not entitlements.

I was referring to the healthcare insurance tax deduction, home mortgage deduction (which the rich can also take on their vacation homes) and similar entitlements that lower income tax revenues but do nothing to help the economy.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

The government does this to encourage certain kinds of behaviors that the voters have deemed worthwhile e.g. buying homes and getting health insurance.

Personally, I'd be happy to scrap all tax deductions in return for a low flat tax rate.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

Agree with you about the flat tax. but the mortgage tax reduction and other entitlements merely funnel money that would be better spent on public services into the pockets of vested interests.

Here's an example:

Home buyers factor the mortgage tax deduction into how much house they can buy. But so do home owners and real estate agents, and they raise their prices accordingly.

So the mortgage tax deduction is a wash for home buyers. You pay extra for your house upfront but get the money back over the next 15-30 years through the deduction.

That money would be better spent on roads, schools, public hospital and libraries instead of lining the pockets of real estate agents. Abolishing the rich text adduction makes sense.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

Who wants to read this crap here that we read in the business media 24/7/365?

You all remind me of the Christians who just won't shut the fuck up with the "good news." We've already heard it, we're opting out, tell it to the hand, take it outside.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

the endless propagation of progressive "crap" 24/7.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

There is more of your libertarian troll verbiage on this site than there is progressive SFBG content.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:48 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

There would be no jobs for trolls like you if progressive ideas were not popular.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

I have no need for crumbs from the tables of others.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 4:45 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:55 am

Of course I am going to take advantage of any entitlement I can get just like everybody else.

But I think the health-insurance premium tax deduction ENTITLEMENT should be abolished.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 1:23 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 1:44 pm


Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

""In the private market, health insurance costs about $400 annually per person for adults. ""

Sorry, i meant to say $400 MONTHLY for adults.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

The libs should be embarrassed by this traveshamockery of a clusterfuck. They dismissed anyone who said Obamacare would be bad for the economy and hurt vulnerable Americans. They derided sound logic and called Republicans nasty, hateful names. They refused to address the substantive arguments against Obamacare and dismissed legitimate opposition discourse as the mere rants of racists.

Face it libs. The Republicans got this one right.

And yet the libs still perpetuate lies and untruths to further an agenda that destroys the middle class just to perpetuate an ill conceived and poorly executed goals. It's disgusting.

Anyone who took even a cursory glance at how this law functions knew it would be a train wreck bound for failure. Those who still carry water for this disaster are either delusional or lying sociopaths. There is no alternative.

Keep polishing those turds, libs.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

Although those of us who opposed it all along can live with that. But yes, we told you so.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:02 am

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