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Health

Second Opinion: What We Learned About Health Care — And Our Readers — in 2013

Oscar Ramos, Shelley, Jean Scally, Becki Mendia, Conrad Harris, Sylvia Hampton, Rich Martindell, Sandra D'Alonzo and Jeff Schoellerman.
Megan Burks, Brian Myers and John Rosman
Oscar Ramos, Shelley, Jean Scally, Becki Mendia, Conrad Harris, Sylvia Hampton, Rich Martindell, Sandra D'Alonzo and Jeff Schoellerman.

For six months, I left my comfort zone covering people (specifically, those in City Heights) to sift through insurance jargon, decipher tax laws and get a hold of the people whom you couldn’t reach on the phone.

Second Opinion answered questions about the Affordable Care Act from 24 San Diegans. The requirements to participate were simple: You had to have a question about Obamacare and you had to be willing to ask it on camera (the answers appeared on the web and on KPBS radio and television).

That last requirement significantly whittled down our pool of questions. It turns out, a lot of people aren't into sharing the details of their finances and health with millions of people.

Below is a look at the whole lot of San Diegans who submitted questions.

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We asked all of our respondents whether they support the Affordable Care Act. The majority, 79 percent, said they do. Some of those who said they do not agree with the law said they support universal health care and consider the ACA a misstep.

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The majority of respondents, 43 percent, had insurance through their employer, but many were asking questions about their spouses, significant others and older children whom their employers don't cover. Thirty percent of those who submitted questions bought insurance on the individual market — many worked freelance or owned small businesses — and 19 percent were uninsured.

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It's no surprise the majority of people with questions, 76 percent, were newly eligible for Medi-Cal or within the income range for new federal insurance subsidies. A quarter made too much to qualify for financial help under Obamacare.

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Medicare eligibility is unaffected by the Affordable Care Act, so the majority of respondents, 85 percent, were younger than 65. Most were on the cusp of change, however. They were retiring but not yet Medicare-eligible, they were about to graduate from college and lose their school's insurance, their current health plan was canceled or they were about to get health insurance for the first time because income or immigration status prevented them in the past.

Questions came from all over the county (and some from outside of the county, which aren't represented here). Many of those who were able to participate (i.e., could schedule time with me and a videographer) worked from home in North County.

See all of my Second Opinions here.