Enrolling uninsured Californians brings federal dollars to state


New ads, mostly on television, will be pushing state residents to Covered California's website where they can buy low or no-cost health insurance starting October 1.

The $80-million effort in several languages aims to enroll as many uninsured Californians as possible. It's all part of the federal Affordable Care Act that starts next year, mandating that everyone have insurance or pay a penalty.

"We're confident that Californians can be part of history, to be part of being a nation that now for the first time is saying healthcare is a right," said Peter Lee, Covered California executive director.

Seven million Californians are uninsured. It's important to enroll as many of them as possible because the federal government sends funding based on the number of people who sign up and qualify for subsidies to lower their premium.

"That's money in Washington, D.C., that's not claimed, that's not coming into our health care system, that's not coming into our economy," said Anthony Wright, Health Access executive director.

The question, though, is how many people will the campaign reach? There are certain demographics that'll be difficult to enroll.

"ObamaCare" is still unpopular among skeptics, and it's a tough sell to people in their 20s who wonder why they have to pay for insurance when they're healthy.

"There has been a lot of concern about young people," said Wright. "The thing is that you need coverage not just when you're sick, but when you're healthy because otherwise you're one emergency away from financial ruin."

Covered California estimates it can get 70 percent of those who qualify for subsidies to sign up.

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