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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Repeal of individual mandate may mean 37,000 more uninsured in Alameda County

ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
An estimated 37,000 Alameda County residents may lose their health care insurance after the repeal last month of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, said the director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. Low-income residents, she added, though, may be spared for the time being.

An estimated 68,000 county residents are currently without health care insurance, said Colleen Chawla, director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. Based on estimates by the federal government, the number could increase to 105,000 by 2025, she said.

The efficacy of the numbers, though, could change, Chowla told an Alameda County Board of Supervisors Health Committee on Monday. It is not yet clear whether elimination of the individual mandate, a requirement in the ACA for all to purchase health care insurance will shock the system to the extent some initially predicted. It is possible after further study that "some elements live more independently on their own," said Chowla.

In the past, Alameda County has been very successful in tamping down uninsured rates in relation to the entire state. The county's rate is currently 4.2 percent, while 6 percent statewide.

Low-income residents who receive health insurance from the county's HealthPac program (those not eligible for full-scope MediCal or Covered California) are not likely to be impacted at this time by the individual mandate repeal and the recent tax bill passed by Congress last month, said Chowla.

"While the tax bill did repeal the individual mandate, it did not either eliminate the subsidies for people to purchase insurance on Covered California or did it affect the expansion of the Medicare program," she said.

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