Californians who have medical problems but no insurance will get help from the federal health care overhaul this year, but the big changes debut in 2014.
At 15, Miranda Ashland is chatty and outgoing, loves to ride horses, write fantasy fiction about dragons and prophecies, and sing in school musicals.
The Saratoga teen also may be among the first Californians helped by the health care overhaul that will guarantee children access to insurance coverage.
Unemployed and uninsured, Jason Villalobos lives in perpetual fear of getting sick or hurt. He also has HIV, a pre-existing condition that makes getting private insurance all the more difficult.
As she grows older, being uninsured has begun to weigh on Rose Beletz.
At age 62, the Walnut Creek woman, who has Type 1 diabetes, has been lucky in maintaining good health. But she knows that can change in an instant. Then what would she do, she wonders.
With his finger bleeding profusely, Chris Underwood tried to avoid seeking medical care.
The uninsured husband and father, who cut himself while washing dishes last month, pays out of pocket for all of his medical expenses. He knew seeing a doctor would be costly.
It makes her nervous, but Rose Beletz has gone without health insurance for 12 years.
Insurers either reject her outright or quote premiums far above her financial reach. Doctors diagnosed the Walnut Creek woman with Type 1 diabetes at age 6.
"We don't insure diabetics," one insurance representative told her husband before hanging up on him.