Bridges to Health

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Thanks to national health care reform under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health coverage is now within reach for millions of people. Open enrollment will begin on November 1, 2015 and ended on January 31, 2015. The first date for 2016 coverage to begin is January 1, 2016.

The ACA also expanded eligibility for Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for low-income individuals and families, to 138% of the federal poverty level. If you are eligible for Medi-Cal, you can enroll anytime throughout the year. If you are interested in learning more about the types of coverage available to Californians, click here for important information on the new health insurance options.

Historically, communities of color have disproportionately lacked health coverage, which has resulted in debilitating gaps in health outcomes. The expansion of coverage under the ACA has been a huge, challenging undertaking; however, due to sustained advocacy from Greenlining and other organizations, millions have gained health coverage. Greenlining has consistently advocated on several fronts to ensure that the specific needs of all communities are taken into consideration, especially those of low-income communities and communities of color.

We have worked closely with Covered California, our state’s health benefit exchange, to create an insurance marketplace, where individuals and small businesses can compare and purchase coverage, and is accessible to all Californians Our 2011 report, iHealth: How to Ensure the Health Benefit Exchange Reaches All Californians, highlighted several key issues regarding the potential barriers, including the fact that the exchange is largely accessed online while people of color are less likely to have broadband access at home and more likely to access the Internet via smartphone. Our follow-up report, Covered California’s First Year; Strong Enrollment Numbers Masks Serious Gaps, highlighted ways for Covered California to improve outreach and enrollment efforts for communities of color. We continue to work with Covered California and other state agencies to ensure that factors like income and language are not barriers to obtaining the benefits provided by the ACA.

Greenlining also has a long history of directly engaging and informing communities about the benefits of the ACA. We have held community town halls around California to explain the law and learn the concerns of low-income Californians, communities of color, and small business owners. We have distributed fact sheets about the ACA and how the it increases access to preventative care, allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26, bans denial of coverage due to a pre-existing condition, and expands options for small businesses. Additionally, we produced a series of policy briefs that examined the specific issues related to health care reform such as workplace wellness programs. For a full index of Greenlining’s reports and publications, see Publications and Resources.

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