Covered California round two, lessons learned

  • November 17, 2014

Enrollment period for Covered California is open

By Erika Mahoney, KION Right Now
Posted: Nov 17, 2014 

SALINAS, Calif. – Jeni Day is one of thousands without health insurance in Monterey County, but not for long.

"Money is tight, don’t have a job right now, so I’m looking for the help," Day said.

She was waiting as the Covered California bus rolled into Natividad Medical Center Monday.

The bus tour is hitting cities across the state, aiming to get the word out about local resources for help.

"Because in every community in the state, there are people you can sign up with," Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said.

Including at Monterey County’s public hospital.

Day has already been on the website, and says it seems pretty easy. But she still wanted that face-to-face explanation.

"We have a total of eight staff here at Natividad Medical Center that are bilingual and ready to help assist families," Enid Donato, health education assistant and certified enrollment councilor at Natividad said.

Natividad leaders say it’s too soon to tell how many people have signed up since enrollment started on Saturday. But they said during the first enrollment period last year, 16,500 people signed up in Monterey County. They hope everyone renews and they hope to add 2,000 more people.

At the end of last year’s enrollment period, about 55,000 people who were eligible in the county still didn’t sign up.

While technical problems plagued Healthcare.Gov on a national scale, Covered California leaders say the hardest part had nothing to do with computer glitches or the application form.

"The biggest challenge we have is one of belief and getting people the facts," Lee said. "That we now have through the Affordable Care Act, ways to get financial help to millions of Californians."

Including Day: "It’s like insurance for your car. If I break down, I want to go get fixed."

Natividad’s Chief of Staff said he’s already seen the positive impact.

"The difference from my perspective is people come earlier for care, so the problems that they have get addressed much more quickly and much more easily," Dr. Jim Hlavacek said.

The last day to sign up is February 15. People can sign up with someone at Natividad in person, or on the phone.

Click here for more information.