The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will allow about nine out of 10 Californians under age 65 to enroll in health insurance plans, according to a joint study released on Thursday by UCLA and UC Berkeley researchers.
The researchers used a computer simulation model to project the impact of the ACA—commonly called Obamacare—on insurance coverage.
More than a million low-income Californians are set to become eligible for health coverage through an expansion of Medi-Cal in 2014, and several million more low and middle-income families will be eligible for subsidies, according to the California Health Benefit Exchange, which funded the study.
The exchange was established to help choose available health plans and provide subsidies for eligible consumers. The joint research team predicted between 1.2 million and 1.6 million new enrollees will join Medi-Cal and 1.8 million to 2.1 million residents will enroll in subsidized coverage through the exchange.
Researchers said if Obamacare is fully implemented in 2019, between 89 and 92 percent of state residents under 65 will have health coverage, compared with 84 percent without the law. This would mean as many as 3.7 million uninsured or under-insured residents would have access to insurance or switch to better, more affordable coverage, according to the researchers.
The U.S. Supreme Court will issue a ruling this month on the constitutionality of Obamacare.
"If the Affordable Care Act is upheld by the Supreme Court and fully implemented, it will significantly expand access to affordable health coverage," said Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the study's lead author. "Based on our simulation, millions of Californians stand to gain, either through insurance they wouldn't otherwise have or from more affordable premiums and increased benefit standards."
According to the study, Los Angeles County will account for 30 percent of new Medi-Cal enrollees and 31 percent of subsidized enrollees statewide. Los Angeles County residents make up 27 percent of California's population, but accounted for 32 percent of the uninsured in 2009, the study reported.