San Mateo County Urges Residents Without Health Insurance to Sign Up By March 31 ‘Obama Care’ Deadline

Agencies and community organizations across County partner to increase enrollment

SAN MATEO, Calif. – March 31, 2014 is the deadline to sign up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly called “Obama Care”. Covered California is the State’s health plan marketplace under the ACA and with the March 31st deadline fast approaching, a network of agencies, community organizations and hundreds of individuals across San Mateo County are partnering to help every uninsured resident have access to quality, affordable health insurance.

Many people do not know that March 31, 2014 is the deadline to sign up for a health plan through Covered California. People who miss the deadline will have to wait until next year’s open enrollment period to sign up through Covered California and obtain financial assistance to make coverage affordable. Health coverage would not begin until January 2015 at the earliest, unless there is a qualifying event such as marriage, divorce, or loss of a job in the interim. People who miss the deadline may also have to pay a federal tax penalty.

“This is an historic health coverage expansion, making access to quality, affordable health care a reality for millions of Americans,” said Jean Fraser, Chief of San Mateo County Health System. “Our goal now is to do everything we can to help make this a reality for the thousands of people living in San Mateo County who don’t know they are eligible and have not yet enrolled.”

Of the 80,000 uninsured in San Mateo County, 30,000 are eligible to enroll in a Covered California health plan, of which about 11,000 people have already enrolled to date. With only 4 weeks remaining to meet the March 31 deadline, there are still thousands of people in the County who are eligible for health insurance but have not yet enrolled.

Most of the 11,000 people eligible to enroll also qualify for an ACA federal subsidy through Covered California, but many are not aware that they qualify for financial assistance.

“People with access to health coverage stay healthier and live longer,” said Iliana Rodriguez, Director of Human Services Agency. “We want to make it as easy as possible for our residents to sign up by opening our offices on selected Saturdays and bringing enrollment events out to the communities.”

In addition to creating awareness of the deadline and available financial assistance, County outreach is focused on spreading the word that people can get in-person help to select a plan and to enroll. There are multiple enrollment events scheduled throughout the County over the next four weeks, along with extended enrollment hours at existing drop-in enrollments sites.

For a list of enrollment sites and events residents can visit http://smchealth.org/EnrollCoveredCA

There are several numbers people can call for personal help to get enrolled:

County Human Services Agency: 1-800-223-8383
County Health Coverage Unit: 650-616-2002
Covered California: 1-800-300-1506; Spanish speakers: 1-800-300-0213
Visit: http://smchealth.org/EnrollCoveredCA

“Every resident deserves basic healthcare to stay healthy and have peace of mind that they’re covered when they may need it the most,” said Srija Srinivasan, Health System Director of Strategic Operations. “It’s important for people to understand that having health insurance gives them access to preventive services, such as flu shots and immunizations, to stay healthy, and useful services for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and asthma.”

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