Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says his city will help spread the word about health insurance options under the Affordable Health Care Act on Nov. 16 by being the first in the state to hold an event in partnership with Covered California.
In a news conference with Covered California supporters, Johnson said 300,000 uninsured people in the Sacramento region was “unacceptable” for any mayor in the area.
Johnson said he still remembers how insurance made it easier for him to get treatment for his childhood asthma.
“That’s just troubling to me even as an adult looking back to think that all kids couldn’t do or have the access I had,” said Johnson.
Many local community groups that were granted monies to undertake outreach efforts will participate. Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said they are spreading the word through churches, schools and festivals.
The biggest barrier to getting uninsured Californians to sign up is cost.
“For somebody who lives paycheck to paycheck, even a little bit is a lot of money,” said Lina Mendez of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities.
The group has already tried reaching out to groups who normally don’t have health insurance. But Mendez said people are telling her the coverage is worth the cost.
“People have told us that, especially when they have illnesses that cost so much more than that (insurance) … they have told us we will pay this much money,” said Mendez.
The challenge is to enroll young men who are typically healthy and don’t require much medical care. Their premiums help pay for those who go to the doctor more often under Obamacare. But Lee said their polls show that they’ll buy in.
“They’re called the young and invincible, but they’re not young and stupid. 80 percent showed when they see what it will cost them, they’ll say ‘I’m signing up,'” said Lee.
So far there are no statistics that shows that to be true, and some critics are claiming that no one has signed up despite over half a million inquiries the first day its website and hotline were made available. Lee said the first week of the roll out of Covered California emphasizes getting information to insurance consumers rather than enrolling them. Lee says numbers to be released tomorrow will show that thousands have taken steps to enroll.