For Immediate ReleaseOctober 15, 2015
Implementation has been a big success in Marin; new signups start November 1
San Rafael, CA – The third open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) begins November 1, and this time the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is focusing on enrolling hard-to-reach populations, helping people understand how to use their insurance, and keeping them insured.
Since January 2014, most legal residents in the United States were required to have health insurance as part of the ACA. Marin HHS staff has improved customer service by adding eligibility workers and streamlining the intake process. The County held dozens of meetings and public presentations about health insurance options and remains committed to help everyone who is eligible to obtain insurance.
“It’s been a big success in Marin, and we’d like to keep that momentum going,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Marin HHS.
During the first two enrollment periods, more than 31,000 applications for insurance were approved in Marin, maintaining a pattern of success during the Affordable Care Acts’ first two years. Of those applicants, 16,774 people enrolled in a qualified health plan through Covered California, a marketplace designed to compare affordable, quality health insurance options and choose the one that best fits needs and budgets.
This year, uninsured Californians may enroll in Covered California qualified health plans or change their plan selection between November 1, 2015, and January 31, 2016. Medi-Cal is open year-round. In Marin, the Medi-Cal program grew by 71 percent since the introduction of the ACA with an additional 14,563 members.
There are several ways to get help enrolling in health insurance.
1) By phone at 800-300-1506.
2) Through www.coveredca.com, the official State of California health care coverage exchange.
3) In person at our Public Assistance Office. Call 473-3400 for locations and hours.
All of these resources and more information on health care coverage is available on www.coveredmarin.org.
All children are eligible for insurance regardless of immigration status. Free assistance is available to enroll a child into insurance by calling 415-473-3434. Further, everyone in Marin has access to health care, regardless of immigration status. Adults who do not qualify for insurance because of immigration status can still receive care at any federally qualified health clinic.
In collaboration with Redwood Community Health Coalition, Marin HHS is developing health literacy materials for new enrollees, and certified enrollment counselors are reaching out to help people renew Medi-Cal to avoid lapses in coverage.
“We are working hard to reach everyone,” said HHS Policy Analyst, Julie Michaels. “We have a certified enrollment counselor working with people on probation and in jail to enroll in coverage. We’re not going to let barriers hold us up because we believe it’s vital to have access to health coverage.”
As part of the ACA, applicants with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be denied coverage. The ACA does not affect coverage for people with health insurance provided through their employer or through Medicare.
What are the critical financial consequences of not having health insurance if one is eligible to get it? First would be risk of financially debilitating medical bills in the event of a catastrophic injury or illness. Second would be a $325 penalty per adult or 2 percent of one’s income, whichever is greater. Marin HHS encourages residents to enroll before the end of the calendar year to avoid the 2015 tax penalty.
Julie MichaelsPolicy AnalystHealth and Human Services
1600 Los Gamos DriveSuite 350San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6873Email: Julie MichaelsMarin HHS website