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2024 marks milestone in health coverage eligibility for Californians

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Groundbreaking changes to health care programs in California are bridging the gap between the haves and the have-nots. 

Covered California Executive Director, Jessica Altman, said "Along the Central Coast, there, around 80,000 residents who are eligible today for low or no cost coverage, either through Covered California and our financial assistance or through the Medi-Cal program, yet continue to go without coverage."

"So spreading that word, talking about the meaning and the value of coverage and that financial protection for yourself, for your family is so important," said Altman.

All low income Californians, regardless of immigration status will be able to enroll in Medi-Cal. 

"Now that they are going to have that insurance, these patients can actually see specialists can see surgeons can be hospitalized without having to worry about the cost of that, you know, without having to pay out of pocket," said Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics CEO Mahdi Ashrafian. 

And for those who are no longer eligible for Medi-Cal, Covered California is helping patients still maintain coverage through its new auto-enrollment program. 

The program eliminates gaps in coverage and creates a seamless transition from Medi-Cal to a Covered California health plan. 

"We've all been struggling with access to health care, with an aging population and, you know, provider burnout, post-pandemic. But I think, you know, where we're all trying to increase access for all of our patients. So I think making it more affordable is really critical. And this is a great step towards that," said Sansum Clinic Medical Director Dr. Marjorie Newman.

Improved funding will reduce out-of-pocket costs for more than 40 percent of current consumers. 

"It's not just about affording coverage, but once you are covered, it's also about affording care. So, Governor Newsom, the legislature here in California are helping us launch a new program for 2024 that will also lower out-of-pocket costs, including entirely eliminating deductibles for over 650,000 people we cover right now," said Covered California Executive Director Jessica Altman.

Enrollment is open now through Jan. 31, 2024. 

For more information about health plans, visit

Article Topic Follows: Health
health care
Santa Barbara

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Mina Wahab

Arab-American producer & reporter with a mission to dig deep in interviews, share authentically, shed light on the issues that matter, and provoke deep thought.


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