Triaging the Long Road Ahead…

by Joanna Morales, CEO

On Tuesday, I had the honor of speaking at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.  I was tasked with talking about the implementation of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA) in California.  It was not a typical role for me, as I have spent the last year talking about the substance of what is in the ACA and how it can benefit the cancer community, rather than providing a commentary of how implementation is going so far.

The ACA, also known as Obamacare or healthcare reform, was signed into law almost 3 and a half years ago.  And since that time, we have seen many consumer protections in the ACA improve access to care.  But the opening of the state health insurance marketplaces on Tuesday was a significant expansion of the availability of health insurance, especially for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.

The demand for information about these new health insurance options was clear this week, as marketplace websites were overwhelmed with visitors and thousands enrolled in the new health insurance options across the country.  If you tried to enroll and gave up because of a slow website, don’t despair, the open enrollment period will last until March 31, 2014.  However, if you want coverage to begin on January 1, 2014, then you must enroll by December 15, 2013.

Despite the endless news stories about the ACA, people just aren’t getting the information that they need about how the ACA affects them and their families.

In a number of studies released this week, it was obvious that there is still so much confusion about the ACA.

  • A CNBC poll found that 46% of people surveyed opposed Obamacare; but 37% of those same people oppose the ACA
  • That same CNBC poll found that 30% of the public doesn’t know what the ACA is
  • Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that only 12% of the uninsured knew that the state marketplaces opened this week
  • That same poll found that 51% of people say they don’t have enough information to know how the ACA will affect them

Even late night television got into the “act.”  This segment from the Jimmy Kimmel Show, explores how people how feel about Obamacare versus the Affordable Care Act (hint: it’s the same law).

We clearly still have a long road ahead to ensure that everyone has access to affordable health insurance coverage and knows how to access it.  For more information about the law and the marketplaces in your state visit:

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