California Healthline: Questions, Concerns Greet Exchange Leaders at S.F. Town Hall Meeting

by Angela Hart, California Healthline Contributing Reporter
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

With an Oct. 1 deadline looming, Covered California officials have launched a public outreach and awareness campaign to help spread the word and answer questions about coverage through the state’s new health insurance exchange.

Dozens of outreach events are planned throughout the state leading up to the exchange’s first day of business about six weeks from now. One of the first town hall meetings Friday at the UC-San Francisco Mission Bay campus attracted hundreds of people who packed a large room and filled out cards with questions about how the Affordable Care Act will be implemented in California.

“You are a part of making history because the questions you ask are questions that hundreds of other Californians have,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. 

Lee said the meeting, and others like it to come, are intended to spread the word and clear up any confusion about how the ACA affects people.

“Our mission is to increase the number of insured Californians,” Lee said. “And our vision is to lower health care costs while increasing quality, to address health disparities and help consumers be able to make the right coverage choice for them.”

Questions from the audience ranged from specifics, such as how much premiums will change for different income levels and when open enrollment begins (October through end of March 2014), to broader questions, such as why health care costs are supposed to fall under the insurance exchanges.

Mitzy Russom, whose Irvine-based company, Pinnacle, provides third-party services for employers with self-funded benefit plans, asked how the exchanges will impact the overall costs of providing health care.

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