Fifth Year Enrollment for Affordable Health Coverage Begins November 1
San Mateo County focuses on insuring immigrant population
The 2018 enrollment period for Californians to sign up for affordable health insurance begins Wednesday, November 1. Tens of thousands of San Mateo County residents will be able to join over four million people who now have affordable health coverage through California’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Covered California, the State’s health insurance marketplace. Over 24,700 County residents successfully signed up for or renewed qualified health insurance plans at Covered California during last year’s enrollment period.
The County aims to make the enrollment process as simple as possible for residents and the estimated 4% of San Mateo County’s total population who is uninsured – whether they are completing the process online on their own, or with the help of an enrollment counselor by phone or in-person. The Health System supports a “no-wrong-door” approach with enrollment counselors available to talk through the best cost and coverage with each plan and find the right one for each person and family.
A significant percentage of uninsured residents are immigrants. Most people who are uninsured are unaware they qualify for low or no-cost health coverage. Outreach efforts will target neighborhoods, such as East Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, and North Fair Oaks, with high percentages of uninsured by partnering with trusted, community based organizations to raise public awareness to connect county residents to health coverage.
“Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health insurance,” said Srija Srinivasan, San Mateo County Health System Interim Deputy Chief. “California and San Mateo County aim to maximize benefits for our residents from the Affordable Care Act, which remains the law of the land, despite talk in Washington of repealing or replacing it. This year, we are focusing on reaching out to our uninsured and immigrant populations to make sure they know that we are here for them, programs are available to help cover health insurance costs, and that having health insurance is one of the best things you can do for your and your family’s health.”
Medi-Cal, California’s free health insurance available to those with low incomes, takes applications year-round. Children in low income families are eligible for Medi-Cal regardless of their immigration status. Currently in San Mateo County, there are over 85,000 adults and over 52,000 children receiving Medi-Cal benefits. As Medi-Cal requires annual renewal, the Human Services Agency assists customers year-round in maintaining their benefits. “We are committed to successfully renewing and enrolling those who are eligible for Medi-Cal so that everyone can access affordable medical insurance,” said Nicole Pollack, Interim Human Services Agency Director.
For San Mateo County residents with incomes above the limits for Medi-Cal, insurers available in 2018 include Kaiser, Blue Shield, Chinese Community Health Plan, and Health Net. Many residents are eligible for significant tax credits through Covered California to help pay the cost of these insurance plans. Due to larger tax credits, nearly four out of five people will see their monthly premiums stay the same or decrease. People can visit Covered California’s “Shop and Compare” tool to review options for affordable health coverage. San Mateo County Health System also provides free and low-cost health coverage programs for people who are low income and do not qualify for Medi-Cal or tax credits through Covered California. This includes working families and immigrants regardless of immigration status.
To avoid any gaps in coverage or a tax penalty, you must enroll by December 15, 2017 so coverage will begin on January 1, 2018. The deadline to renew or enroll in Covered California health insurance is January 31, 2018.
A list of enrollment locations and times and the languages spoken at each center is available at smcgov.org/healthcoverage. Local in-person enrollment assistance is available by calling (650) 616-2002 or 1 (800) 223-8383. San Mateo County residents can also enroll directly through Covered California’s website: CoveredCA.com.