Helping make the health care system work for you

How do you rate the first year of Covered California?

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Our health care system has changed at a dizzying pace under the Affordable Care Act. And many of us are adapting to these new realities, a little more than a year into the life of Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange set up under the federal law. 

The California Healthcare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting documents these profound shifts in a comprehensive package of stories that launched today.

Consider these numbers from their report:

  • 3.6 million: The approximate number of California residents who enrolled in health insurance, through Covered California and Medi-Cal. That's more people than in any other state.
  • 11 percent: The state's uninsured rate. It dropped from 17 percent.
  • 500,000: The number of Californians who are expected to enroll in health insurance during the second round of open enrollment, which ends Feb. 15.

Amidst all of these huge changes and landmarks, reporters Deborah Schoch and Lauren M. Whaley took the time to explore and answer some big questions about the Affordable Care Act's impact on the Golden State, like:

What sorts of changes has the law spurred?

They summarize it this way:

Health reform is rearranging the main players of the state's health system as if they were puzzle pieces – insurers, hospitals, doctors' groups – to create ever-larger clusters intended to serve more people for less money.

What challenges still lay ahead?

They explain that access to medical care is still a problem:

Not everyone can see a doctor they want, or when they want one. The problems are most evident in Medi-Cal, where non-emergency waiting times can exceed three months, and where hundreds of thousands of enrollees were ensnared in a backlog that is shrinking but remains a serious problem.

Beyond this analysis, the Center produced an interactive map depicting the impact of the Affordable Care Act in each California county in the first open enrollment period, which ended last spring.

There are also videos, including this one, produced by Whaley, featuring Dr. Hector Flores, medical director of Family Care Specialists Medical Group in Montebello.

After you check out the Center's reporting, I'd love to hear from you: How has the Affordable Care Act impacted your life? What changes have you noticed - at the doctor, in your health, and in your wallet?

Are you using Covered California to switch health plans? Are you using it to shop for coverage for the first time? How is the website working for you?

Share your experiences in the comments section below, or via email, at

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