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Deductibles, Copays and Premiums... Oh my!

Deductibles, Copays and Premiums... Oh my!

Picture of Amanda Ramirez
Medical bills with health insurance
Medical bills with insurance / image by: attercop311

According to the recently published RAND’s Health Reform Opinion Study, the total number of people who are now insured in the United States after the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act is approximately 266,914,000.  Some have had medical insurance for decades and others purchased it as part of ACA.  But of those 266.9 million people, how many actually understand their coverage or the medical insurance system?

I consider myself fortunate to have been insured since I can remember and yet, even though medical insurance has been a part of my life throughout my entire life, I still struggle to understand what is covered, what isn’t, where my financial responsibilities end and the medical insurance company’s responsibilities begin, and other aspects of healthcare coverage that are daunting, not only to myself but to many others.

Now imagine for a second, that you have recently moved to the United States from a country where medical insurance is not used and where most medical or dental procedures cost less than $50.  Imagine that you are adapting to your new home, the USA, that you don’t even speak English fluently yet but  you MUST, by law, purchase health insurance coverage.  How would you purchase it?  And, once you do, how would you understand what have you purchased?

These are just two of the many questions a large group of Spanish-speaking immigrants have regarding healthcare coverage and the ACA.  While of the focus has been placed on the politics of the new law, many immigrants are struggling to understand the basics…Why insurance is necessary, how the system works and how they will be able to navigate it once they have purchased a plan.

During the next 4 months and with the help of The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, I will aim at answering these questions to help make this process a more comfortable – and less scary - one for thousands of Latino immigrants.  Through interviews with experts and Latinos who have already purchased coverage I will explain the process and key points consumers need to keep in mind when they obtain health insurance. The stories will air during the second open enrollment period of the ACA and hopefully inform and empower the community so that our viewers are no longer fearful and are able to make the right choices for their families and themselves.

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