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Community Clinics Spreading Awareness About Covered California

Aired 9/9/13 on KPBS News.

A surprising number of people haven't heard about Covered California, a new online health insurance marketplace. Community clinics are trying to get the word out.

— Community clinics are trying to raise awareness of Covered California. That's the online exchange where consumers will be able to buy health insurance. Even though the exchange will be up and running on Oct. 1, many people are unaware of it.

Covered California is one of the main features of Obamacare.

Even so, the latest Field Poll reveals only one in four California voters has heard much about it.

Credit: The Field Poll

Neighborhood Healthcare operates 10 community clinics in San Diego and Riverside counties. Program manager Merle Preston said they have 16 outreach workers who are trying to spread the word.

"They're out in the community, at street fairs, health fairs, churches, schools, farmers markets," Preston said. "They also do in-reach at our clinic sites, in our waiting rooms."

Preston added some of the people they've contacted have heard about Covered California. And they have questions about what their options are.

Neighborhood Healthcare's CEO, Tracy Ream, said community clinics throughout California have a vital educational role to play.

"(That's) because health centers, community health centers, serve so many people," Ream said. "And we also are already known in the communities, but there are lots of people out there who still need to hear about the programs."

Many people who use community clinics may be eligible for subsidies or even free health insurance.

But the Field Poll shows statewide, fewer than half of low-income voters are aware of it.

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