Q. I am a three-time, thirty-four-year-old, Californian cancer survivor, who has struggled to keep my HMO insurance my whole life, knowing that if I lost my current policy I wouldn't be able to purchase a new policy due to my pre-existing conditions. My current monthly premiums are $876/month, which I am hardly able to keep paying without going into debt. Can you give me a run down of how Covered California can help me? i.e., Do I need to be without insurance before I can be covered under the Covered California plan? Enrollment begins in October, but I won't be covered until January 2014, right?

A.

Covered California (www.coveredca.com) is a comprehensive website for California residents where you can search for insurance options, compare costs and learn if you are eligible for any subsidies or tax credits toward the cost of purchasing insurance and paying for care. Enrollment begins in October, but coverage does not start until January 1, 2014.

For your specific situation, you can talk to a representative by calling 888-975-1142. Also, you will find a detailed FAQ on the Covered California website. You do not need to be without insurance before you are covered and should keep your current insurance until January 1, 2014 when a new plan would become effective if you decide to change your coverage.