Thousands In Contra Costa Co. Missing Out On Free Health Insurance

RICHMOND (KCBS) – An estimated 53,000 residents in Contra Costa County are eligible for free health care under the Low Income Health Program, but just over 10,000 people are enrolled, according to county health officials.

The program started in July in Contra Costa, and nine other counties, as part of a partnership between the federal, state and county governments.

”It’s a really exciting opportunity that we have in California to start this expansion early,” said Linda Liu with the nonprofit advocacy group Health Access. “Because in the rest of the country this expansion of Medicaid won’t happen until 2014.”

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

As part of the Affordable Health Care Act, those making less than $22,000 per year, and between the ages of 19 and 65 are eligible. Sharon Martin of Richmond, who had to quit work due to a back injury, said that she couldn’t be more excited.

”It’s very important to me because I had nothing and I didn’t know what to do,” said Martin.

Since January, 37 additional counties in California are also offering the coverage.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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