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Covered California is the place to start

CoveredCA will help millions across the state and in our communities enroll.
CoveredCA will help millions across the state and in our communities enroll.
In 2007, a constituent from Burbank wrote to me with an incredibly personal and painful story. After being sexually assaulted, she was prescribed a routine antidepressant by the attending physician — a prescription she filled once. Years later, she was denied health insurance coverage. The insurance company cited her depression as a preexisting condition in their denial letter. She asked me to support healthcare reform so that people like her couldn't be denied coverage in the future.

In just three years, the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to care for millions of Americans. Because of this legislation, all insurance policies are now required to provide free preventive care services, such as immunizations and diabetes and cancer screenings, that can help save lives through early detection. Women have also gained free access to more preventive services, including mammograms, prenatal care and contraceptive services. Children under the age of 19 with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied care, and young adults can stay on their parent's insurance plans until age 26.  Additionally, seniors who fall into the Medicare “doughnut hole” coverage gap will continue to benefit from the law by receiving discounts on prescription drugs.

Many important consumer protection provisions have also been in place to protect buyers from fraudulent and discriminatory insurance industry practices. Insurers are now required to observe strict anti-discrimination laws and cannot charge more based on gender or sexual orientation. Insurers are banned from imposing lifetime limits on new plans and dropping individuals if they develop life-threatening conditions. Insurers are legally required to observe the “80-20 Rule” — meaning they must spend at least 80% of the policy holder's premium on healthcare services and no more than 20% of it on administrative costs. What they don't spend must go back to consumers through rebates or lower premiums, and in fact, nearly $2.5 million in rebates went back to families in our community in 2011 and 2012, with over $2 billion statewide in California.

And, of particular significance to the constituent who wrote to me in 2007, starting in January, no individual, regardless of age, will ever be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition.

On Oct. 1, California took a historic step forward by launching a health insurance exchange, Covered California. The Covered California marketplace is a new way to shop for health insurance — online, on the phone or in person. Consumers are now able to compare insurance plans on an apples-to-apples basis according to price, quality and benefits, and choose the plan that best fits their needs and budget. Insurance companies are now more incentivized than ever to offer consumers better products at lower prices than their competitors.

If you are without health coverage, you have the opportunity to get covered at an affordable price and will be able to choose from a variety of quality insurance plans that cover all essential health benefits like emergency services, maternity care and preventive care. I encourage you to visit the CoveredCA website to see if you qualify for premium assistance, federal subsidies or Medi-Cal assistance to help pay for coverage. 

Improving the way our nation delivers healthcare was not a simple undertaking, and provisions of the Affordable Care Act will need to be adjusted as we move forward. I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to improve the functioning of this significant reform and invite your comments and feedback on how the ACA has affected your family and any ideas for change.

If you would like to find out more about enrollment in Covered California or how the Affordable Care Act works, you can also visit my website for more information about enrolling, and frequently asked questions.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-Burbank) represents the 28th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, which includes many communities throughout Los Angeles, including West Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Edith Murcer October 19, 2013 at 08:06 AM
Nothing is free. Taxpayers are simply paying greater taxes, rates and premiums to pay for the 30 million now on the govt dole
Donna Roberts October 19, 2013 at 11:28 AM
Thanks goodness for ACA! Now my son who has leukemia will not be denied coverage, will not face lifetime limits and his care will not bankrupt us. Sorry if this offends you, Edith.
Edith Murcer October 19, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Well it will bankrupt someone else, as it has too be paid for like anything else. So there is no free lunch nor does Obamacare provide unlimited service and lifetime coverage
Darrell October 19, 2013 at 01:07 PM
The biggest thing that was wrong with the health insurance we've always had is the degree to which the government imposed it's will with regulations and mandates. The free market, with competition, would have forced private insurance companies to provide a product that would have satisfied all of us. So now the gov't is coming in the "fix" all the problems it created. What we are going to end up with will be NOTHING like what Mr. Schiff describes here.
Edith Murcer October 19, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Makes sense Darrell. We can take care of kids with leukemia and not make insurance unaffordable for the rest of us far easier without Obamacare. Free markets with open competition is the answer. Not forced govt mandates that unions and corporations get exemptions.
Donna Roberts October 19, 2013 at 01:51 PM
...since the "free market" has worked so well until now. Not! Stop the insane military spending and we will have more than enough to care for all citizens many times over. Edith, I can promise you that Obamacare will not bankrupt you nor anyone else.
Edith Murcer October 19, 2013 at 01:58 PM
There has not been a free market in healthcare ,. It has been regulated and restricted. Disarm the military and fund more entitlements , laughable. Oh I am sure you know Obamacare won't bankrupt families that pay way more for those who get the govt dole-yep! Unions and corporations get exemptions because it must be so great.
Darrell October 19, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Donna, you missed my point; there has not been a free market in private health insurance companies because the government injected itself. I'm saying that if there had really been a free market, none of us would have had any of the common complaints we hear so often now. In a truly free market for any product or service, competition and consumer demand create what we want and need.
Donna Roberts October 19, 2013 at 02:45 PM
I have an idea you might like: let's leave health care in its current broken state. People go uninsured because they can't afford the premiums. Others die because they can't get preventive care or adequate care once diagnosed. Others are considered uninsurable because they have the nerve to have chronic/severe illnesses. Others have used up all the insurance the companies say they are entitled to...tough luck. People go bankrupt because of ridiculous medical bills that have no correlation with real-life prices. Emergency rooms are forced to treat all comers with those who have insurance having to pick up the bill. Let's call ourselves a Christian, compassionate nation while lambasting people who have to rely on subsidies because they can't live on the wages of a full-time job. Yep, let's keep on beating our heads on the same brick walls because it's what we've always done. You have a better plan? Please enlighten us. And yes, stop the INSANE military spending. You're the one who said disarm, not me.
Donna Roberts October 19, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Wrong, Darrell. In a free market, insurers would choose to insure only the young and healthy. They would continue with their old practices of making insurance for those with chronic illnesses unaffordable and cutting off those whose bills are too high saying they have used up all the insurance they are entitled to. In industry after industry, we have found that the completely unfettered free market abuses consumers without mercy.
Darrell October 19, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Let me try this one more time. We haven't really had the experience of private health insurance, so we have nothing to compare it with. What we HAVE had is our experience with insurance companies under the thumb of government agencies regulating what they can provide, all kinds of mandates that are not in any of our best interests, telling them where and how they must operate their businesses, and whom they can and can't service. What you have described, Donna, is what you will get even more of with the ACA.
Mike Dunn October 20, 2013 at 11:01 AM
I'm on Medicare and am well aware of how the government has screwed up medical. Not one of my former doctors from when I was employed and had Blue Cross HMO take Medicare. When I had Blue Cross all my doctors were five to ten minutes away and I could use a first rate hospital Now I must travel almost one hour to most of my doctors and that first class hospital does not take Medicare. How many doctors that take Medicare will take these new health plans let alone the ones that took my Blue Cross HMO? Obama Care is destined to fail and when it does I'm sure the Democrats will disavow it and try to blame it's inception on the Republicans. It's remarkable about how Democrats try to re-write history when they screw up. They gave us laws that allowed families to purchase homes that they were unqualified to purchase . They brought us the deregulation of the banking industry. These two they are trying to blame on George Bush. The sh*t his the fan while he was president although he wanted these to laws repealed. The Democrats gave us DOMA and DADT. After DADT was passed there were more discharges for being gay than anytime in our history. The numbers dropped while Bush was President and rose again when Obama became president. On top of that when DADT was declared unconstitutional after a Republican political organization filled a lawsuit and won the Obama Administration appealed the ruling.
Johnny Johnson October 20, 2013 at 11:27 AM
All Obamacare does is provide for 30 million people by making 270 million people pay more for it. Its why 30% support Obamacare. It spreads misery equally versus improving anyone's life.
Donna Roberts October 20, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Okay, Steve, I'll send you the bill for my kid's funeral since that will be cheaper than keeping him alive on America's (and my) collective dime. Sorry if his being alive due to affordable health care puts you out too much. Be sure that you can pay for yourself 100% in this life. Make sure you don't get in an accident or your house burn down or you get ill in a way that's expensive to treat. All these things will make you a net taker as others will have to cover your expenses through insurance and taxation. Also make sure that your kids never, ever need outside help of any sort. Must be nice to be so smug and secure.
Donna Roberts October 21, 2013 at 01:31 AM
Actually, I did have insurance. I do not have to explain my circumstances to you, but I can assure you that nothing in life goes as planned. And you make assumptions about me and my son that are not borne out in reality. You just might find that life throws even oh-so-confident you a curveball. You use services all the time that I help pay for. You might find one day that Ayn Rand is not so cuddly afterall.
A different Paul October 21, 2013 at 12:29 PM
Unfortunately the "free market" is rarely compassionate with the needy. The new healthcare laws are far from perfect but they are an attempt to help those who could not get healthcare in the past. It is going to be a learning process to get it right- but it could save lives and it will hopefully keep folks out of the emergency room where you are already paying for their care at higher rates than needed.
Dick Williams October 21, 2013 at 01:46 PM
The problem is that there is no country in the world where government healthcare has increased life expectancies to anywhere near what we had and are destroying. We should learn from others mistakes. Only a liberal could believe you can create and support massive government agencies, and save money. Our quality of healthcare will decline, and medical research will atrophy.
Darrell October 21, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Donna, I am so sorry for the difficulties you are going through with your son that very few of us can fully understand. I do hope you have a good support system to help you through this. You and your son are deeply in my thoughts.
Darrell October 21, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Paul, I have to take issue with you on the free market. It does work for everybody as long as the market is indeed "free" which, in the case of health care, it is not. The MARKET disciplines itself as long as it is left alone without the intrusion of any outside elements who want to manipulate it. As I've said earlier in this thread, private insurance companies have been bound by government regulations, so we have never actually seen how they would work in a free market.

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