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Physician, Pharmacist, Hospital and Health Care Provider Groups Urge Californians to Sign Up for Health Care Coverage Stressing the Breadth of Physician and Hospital Access

One concern I often hear from clients about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that the insurance packages offered under it do not include a broad enough selection of doctors and hospitals. Patients/insureds want options. They want to know that when it comes time to select a general practitioner or specialist as well as a hospital or other care facility to treat them, that they have a reasonable menu from which to choose.

(To be fair, this concern is not limited to ACA packages. It applies to all insurance packages, since all packages limit patient access to doctors and hospitals participating in that particular plan.)

To address this concern, Covered California, the state operated insurance marketplace established under the ACA, has entered into a informational program with the California Medical Association (CMA) and thirteen other physician, pharmacist, hospital and health care provider organizations to publicize the large number of California doctors and hospitals that are participants in one or more of the insurance programs offered through Covered California. The purpose of the promotional program is to urge uninsured Californians to enroll in one of the many private insurance programs made available through the Covered California marketplace during the current open enrollment period from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. To that end, the CMA and the other participating organizations are sending out letters and other promotional materials to their members urging them to promote enrollment and to display an "I'm In" placard so that patients, potential patients and family members will know that the providers accept insurance products offered through Covered California. The promotional materials will go out to more than 100,000 doctors, pharmacists, and physician assistants, as well as over 400 hospitals, health systems and medical groups.

According to Covered California, more the 61,000 California physicians participate in one or more of the insurance coverage options available through Covered California. That represents more than 75 percent of all active, licensed, non-hospital California physicians. Covered California plans as a whole also include 403 acute care hospitals, or 87 percent of such facilities in California, including all University of California hospitals and all member hospitals of the California Children's Hospital Association.

Remember, under the ACA all individuals are required to obtain health insurance coverage. You may be entitled to federal subsidies to assist in the payment of insurance premiums. The availability and amount of subsidy will depend upon your income. Although you may purchase insurance from any provider, you will only qualify for a subsidy if you purchase through Covered California. And, subject to a few exceptions, you may only purchase through Covered California during the annual open enrollment period -- which ends on February 15, 2015.

If you need further information on the health insurance policies offered through Covered California, check out their website at www.coveredca.com. Or contact me, Alex Pfeifer, Pfeifer Insurance Brokers, at 650 762-8070, or alex@pfeiferins.com.

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