SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - This Tuesday is the first day consumers can enroll in Covered California, the Golden State's version of Obamacare.
Because of the Affordable Care Act and Covered California, 9 million more Californian's now have health insurance, the smallest percentage uninsured on record.
The enrollment period ends December 15 if you want to have insurance at the beginning of next year.
Covered California says 92 percent of consumers will be able to choose from at least three or more providers; no one will have less than two. But, a critical question: Will premiums be higher in 2017?
"Premiums across California statewide are going up, on average, about 13.2 percent. In some places it will be a little bit higher, but, we're not seeing the kinds of increases that are being talked about around the country," says Dana Howard, Covered California's Chief Spokesman.
Covered California says most folks won't pay nearly that much more, due to subsidies. That's thanks to a lot of young, healthy people, buying in. "If they simply shop around and select the lowest cost plan in their same current tier, pricing tier, they're going to see a price increase of 5 percent or less. Some will their prices, their premiums go down," says Howard.
Next year, most consumers will have lower co-pays and urgent care costs will not rise. Those who opt for costlier Silver, Gold or Platinum plans will have flat fee co-pays for emergency room; not sticker shock and no deductible. Lower Bronze members will have co-pays on their fourth doctor visit.
"It's very, very important for folks to make sure that they are working with an agent or counselor whose gonna make sure that they're getting the subsidies, the advanced premium tax credits that they deserve." concludes Howard.
Critics of the Affordable Care Act say the increases indicate that the program is destined to fail and that only unreliable Federal subsidies keep rates from skyrocketing. Before the Affordable Care Act, premiums went up much higher. Many people with pre-existing conditions could not get insurance. Many who had it, who got sick, saw they coverage canceled.