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San Mateo County Encourages Residents to Keep Benefits and Enroll in Affordable Health Coverage

News press@smchealth.org, (650) 867-1661

San Mateo, CA – In the wake of the proposed changes to federal “public charge” immigration rules, which define how an immigrant resident’s application to enter the country or receive a green card is assessed, San Mateo County advises everyone to utilize the benefits they need and remain available to them.

The proposed changes significantly expand what public benefits are considered as public charge (e.g., Medi-Cal, CalFresh, public housing or Section 8 vouchers). Access to healthcare and insurance, food and housing are critical to a healthy community, and San Mateo County remains committed to providing excellent services with respect and dignity for all.

With the 2019 enrollment period to sign up for affordable health insurance with Covered California underway, San Mateo County Health enrollment counselors have heard concerns from residents about the proposed rule changes. It is important to note that rule changes would only be implemented after the public comment period. If the proposed rule becomes final, non-cash benefits (other than long-term care) used before that time will not be considered. Using benefits now can help residents or their family members become healthier, stronger, and more employable in the future.

“Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health coverage and benefits that support individual health and our entire community,” said Srija Srinivasan, San Mateo County Health Deputy Chief. “When people fear accessing the services and programs they need, health conditions can worsen and people may forgo preventative actions like vaccinations that prevent diseases and protect the health of our community. San Mateo County Health encourages all residents to enroll in health coverage as one of the best things to do for their and their family’s health.”

During last year’s enrollment period, over 25,210 San Mateo County residents successfully signed up for or renewed qualified health insurance plans at Covered California. 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 – supporting a “no-wrong-door” approach with enrollment counselors available to talk through the best cost and coverage plan for each person and family. 

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 82,835 adults and 50,224 children receiving Medi-Cal benefits. As Medi-Cal requires annual renewal, the Human Services Agency assists customers year-round in maintaining their benefits.

“Obtaining and maintaining health insurance for low income individuals and families is a top priority for the Human Services Agency. Our regional offices and our call center is available all year round for Medi-Cal enrollment,” said Nicole Pollack, San Mateo County Human Services Agency Director.

For San Mateo County residents with incomes above the limits for Medi-Cal, insurers available in 2019 include Kaiser, Blue Shield, Chinese Community Health Plan, and Health Net. People can visit Covered California’s  “Shop and Compare” tool to review options for affordable health coverage. San Mateo County Health 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, you must enroll by December 15, 2018 so coverage will begin on January 1, 2019. The deadline to renew or enroll in Covered California health insurance is January 15, 2019. 

A list of enrollment locations and times and the languages spoken at each center is available at www.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: www.CoveredCA.com.

#HealthyBayArea

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