SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Despite bickering at the federal level, enrollment for the Affordable Care Act starts Tuesday, October 1.
The new, national health system is billed as giving 82 percent of Californians more choices and stronger coverage than ever before.
But local health experts warn: Expect challenges over the next few years. Getting tens of thousands of people enrolled will be the first one. Then, in January, getting enough providers for the system may be tough. And last but not least, something called "pent up demand" -- people who haven't seen a doctor for a very long time, if ever.
"They'll have a lot of illness that haven't been diagnosed or treated," said Dr. Takashi Wada, director of Santa Barbara County Public Health. "There will be a lot of strain on the system initially till they settle down."
Currently, there are roughly 60,000 to 70,000 local residents who are uninsured.
Once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, that number is expected to go down to about 25,000.
And that's just in Santa Barbara County.