Covered California's state-wide tour will stop in Bakersfield

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Covered California has embarked on a bus tour to educate the public during open enrollment and will make a stop in Bakersfield on Saturday.

The organization is creating a state-wide mural project where artists will paint murals on buildings with the goal of promoting health and wellness, as well as awareness about health insurance.

Ana Velasquez from Covered California has found herself answering a lot of questions about the changes the current administration wants to make to the Affordable Care Act.

One of those is whether or not prices will go up. Although it's too early into open enrollment to tell, Velasquez hasn't seen an increase in premiums just yet, she said. People do, however, have other concerns.

"'Is it still the law to have health insurance? I thought it was repealed? I thought we didn't have to have insurance anymore?' As of today, it is the law. You do have to have health insurance," Velasquez said.

Although the organization is responsible to helping over 17,000 families get health insurance, there are millions of people in California still uninsured who will face a tax penalty.

As of right now, the tax penalty is going to be $695 per adult, $347 per child or 2.5 percent of the filed annual income.

The consequences of not having health insurance can be severe, Velasquez said.

"Your hospital bills could be extremely, extremely high. The number one reason that families in America file for bankruptcy is because [they're] unable to pay medical bills," she said.

22 percent of families in Kern County were uninsured before the Affordable Care Act. That number has since dropped to nine percent.

"We have come a long way and have done a tremendous job," Velasquez said.

Rubin Espinoza will begin painting one of the first murals from this tour on Nov. 4 at Clinica Sierra Vista located at 1611 First Street from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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