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Exploring the factors behind the nearly 24 percent drop in new Covered California enrollees




Informational pamphlets are displayed during a healthcare enrollment fair at the Bay Area Rescue Mission on March 31, 2014 in Richmond, California. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) held the fair to help people sign up for free and low-cost health coverage through Medi-Cal or Covered California.
Informational pamphlets are displayed during a healthcare enrollment fair at the Bay Area Rescue Mission on March 31, 2014 in Richmond, California. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) held the fair to help people sign up for free and low-cost health coverage through Medi-Cal or Covered California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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New enrollment in California’s state healthcare insurance was down significantly this year, the agency reported on Wednesday.

Covered California executive director Peter Lee pointed toward the nullification of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate as the main reason for the drop, saying in a statement “recent actions at the federal level appear to be causing large drops in enrollment that will lead to more uninsured and higher premiums for all Californians.” California Governor Gavin Newsom has, in his first month in office, already proposed a state individual mandate that would require Californians to purchase coverage.

Others point to different reasons, like an overall increase in premiums, more people getting healthcare coverage through their workplace thanks to an increase in hiring and low unemployment, or simply a lack of desire among many Californians to purchase health insurance, since there’s no longer an economic disincentive to not buying insurance and many view it as an added cost for a service they don’t use often enough to justify paying for

What do you think are the reasons behind the drop in new enrollees? How much of a factor is the removal of the individual mandate at the federal level? What could be done to encourage more Californians who don’t get coverage through their employer to enroll in Covered CA?

Guests:

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California

Lanhee Chen, research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University; he served as a health policy adviser to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004 as well as senior counselor to the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during the second Bush administration; he tweets @lanheechen