Governor Newsom signed a bill into law last month that will take effect January 1, 2020 requiring all Californians to have health care coverage. Californians will need to have coverage either through an employer; under Covered California, California's health care marketplace; or through Medicare and Medi-Cal. Those who do not have insurance may be subject to penalties when they file their taxes next year.
The federal individual mandate was first introduced under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 and was effectively repealed January 1, 2019, due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduced the penalty to zero. Some states created their own individual health insurance mandate, requiring residents to have qualifying health coverage or pay a fee with their state taxes for the 2019 plan year. California did not have this until the bill was signed in October to take effect January 1, 2020.
Why is this important?
At a flu vaccination clinic held recently in the Los Angeles area, half of the participants did not have health coverage, and all of them had no idea that there was a new law requiring them to obtain coverage to meet the January 1st requirement. Open enrollment for Medicare ends December 7, 2019 and open enrollment for Covered California ends January 15, 2020.
In addition, California will become the first state to allow unauthorized immigrant adults to receive full Medi-Cal coverage when it expands eligibility to people ages 19 to 25 in January. But health professionals and immigrant rights advocates are concerned that fear of federal immigration policy combined with young adults’ perception of not needing health insurance will keep them from signing up.
Call to action
As nurses and nurse leaders, we have a responsibility to educate patients under the ANA Code for Nurses, RN scope of practice, and AONL competencies. We must educate our communities on this important piece of legislation that could impact them with potentially devastating results. You might schedule an insurance expert to do a presentation at your faith community, local senior center, or other civic organization. You can talk with your patients about the importance of having health coverage. Work with your community college or youth center to offer an open enrollment event. Or you might engage your neighbors about the law and provide them resources such as the information and links below. You might even do something creative, and if you do, let us know what that was. Whatever you do, don’t let this opportunity slip by.
Covered California, California's health marketplace
Call the Covered California Service Center at 800-300-1506, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) TTY 1-877-486-2048