Covered California: It’s a family affair |
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Jim Firth

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Covered California: It’s a family affair

I had a nephew, David, whose carpentry skills really stood out. David was actually my cousin's son, but family is family.

David died of an aneurism at the age of 31.

David lived with his girlfriend and baby daughter near San Jose. His girlfriend, Jen, is a waitress, likes getting tips in cash and was enrolled in California's Healthy Families Program with their daughter, Zoe.

David worked for various contractors — sometimes for cash — and didn't have, or felt that he needed, health insurance. He was young, healthy and said he couldn't afford the cost. He would often complain to me about welfare cheats and how unfair it was for him to have to support "those people."

When David broke his arm a while ago, the local emergency room fixed him up and suggested he follow up with his doctor and get some physical therapy to help with any stiffness he could feel after his arm healed. He didn't have a doctor, or get the PT and didn't pay the emergency room bill.

David never really understood the connection between his working for cash, thereby avoiding paying income taxes; skipping out on his medical bill, thereby causing my insurance rate to increase; or using my tax dollars to provide health care for his daughter. Don't misunderstand,

I happily support Zoe receiving health care. However, I don't support people avoiding paying their "fair share" of taxes and skipping out on their bills while complaining about welfare cheats.

Jen and Zoe are now insured by Medi-Cal, the California health insurance program supported by the Affordable Care Act. David would have qualified for low-cost health insurance under Covered California. It's sad that David didn't get annual health checkups; he might still be alive today.

What's even sadder is that there are thousands of Davids all over our country and hundreds right here in Nevada County.

Signing up for the Affordable Care Act — Enrollment Assistance Program

An estimated 5.3 million uninsured Californians are eligible for coverage through the Covered California marketplace. Of that total, 2.6 million qualify for federal subsidies only available through the Covered California marketplace, and 2.7 million may or may not qualify for subsidies but will benefit from guaranteed coverage whether or not they enroll through the marketplace. The Enrollment Assistance Program is critical in providing in-person help to consumers purchasing Covered California health plans.

The Enrollment Assistance Program is comprised of three groups: enrollment counselors, enrollment entities and navigators.

In Nevada County, government assistance will be found at the County Human Services Agency, 950 Maidu Ave., P.O. Box 1210, Nevada City, CA 95959; by calling (530) 265-1340 or (888) 809-1340 toll free; or at

If you need to reach a customer service representative, call:

• Covered California Customer Service Phone: 1-800-300-1506 (TTY: 1-888-889-4500)

• For SHOP Certified Insurance Agent and Employer support, call: 877-453-9198

For Certified Enrollment Entity and Certified Enrollment Counselor support, call: 888-402-0737

Jim Firth lives in Grass Valley.