Fourth Year Enrollment for Affordable Health Coverage Begins November 1
The 2017 enrollment period for Californians to sign up for affordable health insurance begins Tuesday, 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 7,000 County residents successfully signed up for qualified health insurance plans at Covered California during the 2016 enrollment period, and over 18,000 people renewed their coverage.
Medi-Cal, the State’s no cost health insurance available to those over 65 or with low incomes, takes applications year-round. More than 35,000 individuals enrolled in Medi-Cal and over 58,000 renewed their coverage between October 2015 and this September. As Medi-Cal requires annual renewal, the Human Services Agency assists customers year-round in maintaining their benefits. “Given the high cost of living in San Mateo County, the availability of Medi-Cal coverage is a key component in providing a safety net for our low-income or unemployed residents,” stated Iliana Rodriguez, San Mateo County Human Services Agency Director.
San Mateo County has made great strides in helping more people gain access to health coverage. Over the past year, almost all children in the local Healthy Kids program transitioned to full scope Medi-Cal coverage, providing care regardless of immigration status and able to see providers across the state.
“Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health insurance,” said Srija Srinivasan, San Mateo County Health System Interim Deputy Chief. “Having health insurance is one of the best things you can do for your health, by covering preventive services such as flu shots as well services to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes. Health insurance gives you peace of mind you will be covered when you need it most.”
The County aims to make the enrollment process as simple as possible for residents and the estimated 7% of San Mateo County’s total population that is uninsured – whether they are completing the process on their own online, or with the help of an enrollment counselor by phone or in-person. The Health System supports a “no-wrong-door” approach through which a single application is used to enroll an individual in the most appropriate health insurance coverage based on income and other criteria. Uninsured residents tend to be located in “hot spots” across San Mateo County, including East Menlo Park, Redwood City, East Palo Alto, and North Fair Oaks. Outreach efforts will target these “hot spots” by partnering with trusted, community based organizations to raise public awareness to connect county residents to health coverage.
This year’s enrollment brings new insurer Oscar to San Mateo County residents as well as existing insurers Kaiser, Blue Shield, Anthem, Chinese Community Health Plan, and Health Net. Enrollment counselors are available to talk through the best cost and coverage with each plan and find the right one for each person and family.
The deadline to renew or enroll in Covered California health insurance is January 31, 2017. To avoid any gaps in coverage or a tax penalty, you must enroll by December 15, 2016 so coverage will begin on January 1, 2017.
A list of enrollment locations and times as well as 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.