California Consumers Face More Immediate Concerns Than Obamacare’s Uncertain Future

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While Washington debates the future of the Affordable Care Act, many Californians face more pressing concerns about rising premiums and shrinking networks of doctors and hospitals.

Open enrollment for the Covered California exchange is underway, and sign-ups are running ahead of last year’s pace. About 1.2 million Californians had renewed their existing coverage and more than 190,000 people had signed up for new health plans as of last week. The enrollment deadline for coverage that starts Jan. 1 ends Monday at midnight. But people can still sign up for 2017 coverage until Jan. 31.

After two years of modest increases, Covered California premiums next year are going up by 13.2 percent, on average. That can pose a financial burden for some consumers who are already living on a tight budget. Others express frustration about the limited choice of medical providers and how difficult it still is to figure out whether their family doctor or specialist is part of a health plan’s network.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, and Chad Terhune, a senior correspondent at California Healthline and Kaiser Health News, joined KPCC radio’s “Air Talk” last Thursday to discuss those consumer concerns and what might be looming ahead as Republicans in Washington consider repealing and replacing Obamacare.

 

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