Emergency Rooms Are Front Line For Enrolling New Obamacare Customers

Most patients remain thoroughly befuddled about the law. Half of uninsured adults who could get policies now through the health insurance marketplaces have never tried to buy insurance on their own, and, in California, nearly one out of two poor adults don't know they would qualify for Medicaid.

Angela Felan is sitting in the emergency department waiting room at O’Connor Hospital for the second time in a week. A blue surgical mask covers her nose and mouth, and her hoodie sweatshirt is pulled snug over her head. She first came into the emergency room a few days ago with what she thought was bronchitis. The doctor prescribed an inhaler that cost her $56. She works part-time in retail and hasn’t had insurance for at least a decade because she can't afford it.

“And unfortunately, even not having insurance is just as expensive,” she says.

Felan, 31, has heard of the state’s insurance exchange — called Covered California – but she worries coverage will still be pricey. She’s unsure if she will qualify for subsidies for private insurancebecause of her low income, or even Medicaid. “As far as today goes, I’m expecting another large bill from the hospital,” Felan says. “Previously, when I would come in uninsured, I would get like a $200 or $300 bill for just one visit.”

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Source: Kaiser Health News