SACRAMENTO, CA - Covered California, the state's health care exchange program that aims to make health insurance more affordable, opened for enrollment Tuesday.
The Affordable Care Act states all Americans must have health insurance by 2014, or you could be fined. Under the new health care law, no American will be denied insurance, including those with pre-existing conditions.
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said the changes to health care are needed.
FACEBOOK: News10 viewers soundoff about Covered California
"What is changing is a new world for millions of Californians who have not had insurance; a new world for people who can no longer be denied coverage by insurance companies; a new world where millions of those individuals will get a financial leg up to make health care affordable for them," Lee said.
Lee said Covered California will benefit the close to 5 million Californians without insurance; even those with insurance are choosing to opt in to the state's health care exchange program.
"Currently, we pay close to $500 monthly through my husband's employer provided insurance plan. The ACA would offer us the same coverage, through the same company for only $291 per month, with our co-pays costing half of what we pay now," Casey Croxford wrote on News 10's Facebook page. "It sounds pretty good to me."
Shayla Salazar shared a similar story, "My mom who can't get coverage for under $700 a month can now get it for $77 per month."
"This is a major improvement on how people can buy coverage," said Anthony Wright with the state's health care consumer advocacy group, Health Access California.
Wright said any legal resident of the Golden State can sign up for Covered California; although many who already have insurance may choose to keep their own.
"People who have coverage at work should be able to keep it, people who have insurance through Medicaid should be able to keep it," Wright said.
However, under the Affordable Care Act, some plans will no longer be offered.
Don Hayes of Sacramento, who already has insurance, said his current plan is being discontinued because it will not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Hayes said in an email his insurance will go up 91 percent in 2014 to more than $400 per month.
"This Obama Care has to be defunded. It is going to ruin this great country of ours," Hayes wrote.
Nancy Hodge said on Facebook that her family does not qualify for Covered California, so they now need to use her husband's insurance from work, costing them $1600 a month.
For those who can't afford insurance, financial assistance and tax credits are available, but people like Melissa Freidenfelt even with the help, she still can't come up with the extra monthly expense.
"With the credit we would still have to pay $255 a month, sometimes I cannot afford to buy milk after pay day, not sure where I will come up with $255 a month," Freidenfelt said in Facebook.
"There will be an expense; we think it's an expense that's worth it," Wright explained. "To have the peace of mind of having health coverage."
Like it or not, most adults will be required to have public or private insurance by 2014, or you'll be fined. In 2014, the fine will be $95 a person, or 1 percent of your yearly income, whichever is greater. The fine for lack of coverage for each child is $47.50. These fines increase substantially in 2016. If you're caught without insurance in 2016, it will cost an individual$695 or 2.5 percent of the person's income, or $2,065 for a family.
While some families benefit from new health care laws, others said we shouldn't be required to pay for insurance.
DC Mommie said on Facebook, "This plan seems as if it is only to help those who don't work or cannot. Forcing working citizens to buy is wrong."
The deadline to sign up for Covered California and to be insured by Jan. 1, 2014, is Dec. 15.