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Our Mesa Neighborhood Offering Free Affordable Care Act Enrollment Counseling

Starting this month through March 2014, Our Mesa Neighborhood has scheduled continuous enrollment counseling sessions on Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, from 3 to 4 p.m. Sundays at Lazy Acres Cafe.

Open enrollment began on Oct. 1 and lasts until March 3, 2014.

Yvonne DeBrazil, J.D., who together with county Supervisor Janet Wolf spoke on Obamacare at the OMN Village Hall last September, is conducting the free service. A licensed California insurance agent, she has completed all the training for certified agents with Covered California.

In a nutshell, DeBrazil explains Obamacare, as follows:

» Effective 2014, all California residents will be able to get health insurance whether or not they have a pre-existing health condition or illness. No health questions will be asked to determine eligibility. All policies will be guaranteed to be issued regardless of health.

» Nor will any policies be rated-up due to a health condition. All people will be rated the same as everyone else in their age category.

» Many people will qualify for a government subsidy to help pay the price of the policy. The calculation to determine if a person qualifies for a subsidy will be based on a person's net income.

» We do not yet know the exact figures used for the calculation, but it appears that the vast majority of middle-class people will qualify for the government subsidy to help pay their insurance premium.

» If, however, if a person does not qualify for the subsidy, they will automatically be given a policy that has greater coverage at no extra price.

» The law requires that all people purchase insurance, or incur a penalty. The penalty will be 1 percent of their income in the first year. In the second year, the penalty is a little more, and continues to increase topping out at about the fifth or seventh year. The first-year penalty is negligible; however, by the fifth year the penalty will be high enough to be an incentive for most to buy the insurance.

» For those who do not have pressing health issues and have not had health insurance, it is tempting not to the buy the insurance because of the additional cost in their budget. However, there is government subsidy to help pay for a significant portion of the premium.

According to DeBrazil, in California, of the 17,000 insurance agents who registered to train as counselors, 7,000 have actually taken the test, of whom only 5,000 passed and 1,300 have been certified to date.

She will provide free assistance to anyone needing help with enrollment during OMN’s scheduled hours at Lazy Acres, and is available to see anyone outside of those hours.

OMN has Thursday sessions from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. for those who have pre-registered. To be in this list, call DeBrazil at 805.962.0292, email [email protected] or call 805.845.6870.

— Alice San Andres Calleja represents Our Mesa Neighborhood.


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