Health

Thursday, Aug 22 2013 05:09 PM

Community leaders, docs invited to town hall on health insurance exchange

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BY RACHEL COOK Californian staff writer rcook@bakersfield.com

Kern County residents can't buy health insurance from the state's benefits exchange until October, but representatives from California's new marketplace will visit Bakersfield Friday to talk about the exchange and the Affordable Care Act.

Friday's event is targeted toward physicians and community leaders but open to anyone, according to staff for Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield. Salas is hosting the meeting.

The town hall will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the East Bakersfield Veterans Hall, 2101 Ridge Road. Doors open at 4 p.m.

A Covered California representative will give an update on the exchange's progress and offerings, and prep community leaders on how they can help with outreach efforts, according to a news release.

State exchanges like Covered California are a key part of how the health care law aims to connect more people with health insurance. A massive statewide campaign is underway to promote the exchange but getting the word out before the marketplace opens this fall is a big challenge. Only 25 percent of voters younger than 65 who were surveyed for a recent Field Poll said they had "heard a lot or some about" the exchange.

Californians will be able to select from different plans of varying prices on the exchange depending on which area of the state they live in. Kern County residents perusing the exchange for health insurance will have options from among Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Health Net and Kaiser Permanente.

Approximately 64,000 Kern residents will be eligible for federal subsidies to help cover the cost of insurance bought through the exchange, according to one estimate.

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