Implementing the Affordable Care Act
The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) calls for states and the federal government to establish “exchanges” to make affordable health insurance available to everyone. California was one of the first states to create its own exchange called, Covered California, that will provide an online marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses to compare and purchase health insurance coverage. The initial open enrollment period began on October 1, 2013 and runs through March 31, 2014. Locally, NOVA is providing resources about the ACA to its job seekers and employers and how to access coverage. NOVA is not advising customers on what health insurance coverage is best for them, but rather steering them in the right direction where they can get their questions answered. The City of Sunnyvale recently received a grant from Covered California to educate community residents and businesses about the ACA requirements and resources that are now available. In addition to outreach and conducting community forums at the Columbia Neighborhood Center, the City has been working with NOVA to educate its career advisors on ACA so they can better assist their customers and has conducted specific forums for NOVA’s job seekers in September and October. NOVA is also reaching out to its customers via email, its website, and through flyers about ACA resources. When workers lose their jobs they not only lose wages but important health insurance benefits as well. ACA provides an invaluable resource for affordable health insurance coverage that unemployed workers and their families have not had available to them in the past. In addition, for small businesses that cannot afford to provide health insurance for their workforce, they can offer their employees this new resource.