Searching for Coverage
Alberta Vasquez listens intently to a health plan advisor this morning.
Vasquez, a single mother of three, is looking for information on how she can afford insurance coverage for herself.
"My kids are covered and all, but for myself, I'm not covered at all for anything," said Vasquez, "So any type of illnesses I ever get, I can't just go anywhere."
Today marks the first day the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.
The two main pieces of the act include a new online system dedicated to connecting people to insurance exchanges where they can shop for policies; and an expanded medicaid, which now covers adults making up to 138% of federal poverty level, or about $15,000 a year.
The new policies and benefits will start at the beginning of next year.
Health administrators say the Affordable Care Act will affect over 70% of people in Yakima County alone; that includes 30,000 people who would qualify for medicaid expansion, and over 24,000 people who would qualify for subsidies.
"Access to basic primary care is a right, it shouldn't be a privilege in our country," said Yakima Neighborhood Health's Rhonda Hauff, "To be able to take down some of those barriers is very important, it's a value that we as americans should all feel very great about."
Some of those who argued against the act's implementation believe the government should not be forcing people to purchase insurance, and that smaller businesses with more than 50 full time employees will have to cut jobs so they will not be required to offer insurance.
But for Alberta Vasquez, it's simply a chance for her as a single mother to protect herself from the unknown and remain healthy for her family.
"It matters a lot to me actually, because if I'm not healthy, then who is going to be around for my kids later? I'll get more help as far as when I'm sick or something like that," said Vasquez.