Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

Health care reform would increase access and affordability in California

By Ken Jacobs

As the discussion begins at today's bi-partisan meeting on health care, it is important to remember the stakes in this debate.  Nationally 31 million people are projected to gain health coverage under the President's proposal.

The White House plan would expand Medicaid eligibility at the same level as passed by the U.S. Senate and provide increased tax credits for low- and middle-income families to buy coverage through the new health insurance exchange.

The benefits go well beyond the uninsured. Those currently purchasing coverage in the individual market or who have unaffordable job-based coverage would also have access to a the exchange, and the subsidies for low- and moderate-income families.

My colleagues and I have a new data brief on how the Presidents proposal would impact Californians which can be accessed here . We found:

  • Close to 4 million Californians who were uninsured, in the individual market or who had unaffordable employer-sponsored insurance in 2007 would qualify for Medicaid or subsidized coverage in the exchange.
  • Californians earning $14,404 a year would save $5,159 on average on premiums and out-of-pocket costs under the proposal compared to what they would currently have to spend in the individual market. Those earning $43,320 a year would save $904 a year under the proposal.
  • This graph shows how average health spending as a percent of income would change in the state compared to the costs in the current individual market.

    Those who don’t qualify for the subsidies will still benefit from the reforms requiring insurers to cover all applicants, without regard to pre-existing conditions.

    Congress should use budget reconciliation to make the Presidents proposed amendments to the bill, and pass it.