8.2 million California currently lack health insurance. Many hope that will change when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rolls out in 2014, but it’s almost anyone’s guess what the final bill will be for California.
In 2010, state officials said it would cost California $2.7 billion annually; this year they estimated annual costs would be in the, “low hundreds of millions of dollars”; and the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation recently pegged it at almost $14 billion for the first decade.
The discrepancies lie in uncertainty over how many people will sign up for Medi-Cal, the public insurance program for the poor. And in spite of the Californians who will gain health insurance from the ACA, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research estimates that by 2019, 4.1 million Californians will remain uninsured and rely on emergency rooms for their care, the cost of which counties will still need to absorb.
That intensifies the debate because Brown’s administration is already suggesting reducing Sacramento’s annual $1.4 billion to counties to help them care for the uninsured. David looks at the numbers.
Kavita K. Patel, adjunct assistant clinical professor at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine