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Covered California has launched a bus tour through more than 20 cities in the state to raise awareness about its second open enrollment period — which began Nov. 15 and continues through Feb. 15 — and offers people the opportunity to get health coverage. They stopped by San Luis Obispo on Nov. 17.
The San Luis Obispo event went on for half an hour before the bus departed for its next destination. It took place outside the San Luis Obispo Superior Courthouse and ended on a positive, energetic note with attendees chanting “I’m in,” the Covered California’s slogan to spread the word that everyone deserves equal access to health care.
What is Covered California?
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable care act. They are responsible for creating a health insurance marketplace where individuals and small businesses can receive affordable health insurance plans.
What is open enrollment?
Open enrollment is the only time during the year when residents of California who need insurance cannot be denied by a health plan. Individuals can also use this period to switch plans or buy a new plan.
Through interactive web shopping tools, free confidential assistance and a range of private health insurance plans, Covered California helps consumers compare standard benefits and get health coverage.
How will open enrollment affect young adults in San Luis Obispo?
According to Craig Wood, program manager for outreach and enrollment for the Central Coast’s Community Health Centers, most students are already covered.
Director of Covered California’s office of communications and public relations Amy Palmer stressed those who weren’t covered should get covered soon.
“The most important thing students can do is make sure they have coverage,” Palmer said. “If not, they are taking some real risk with their financial future because only one trip to the emergency room can put them in debt for a lot of years.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, young adults can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26. After that, obtaining a health care plan is income-based, Wood said.
According to Palmer, there are new improvements to the second enrollment process that will aid individuals seeking a health care plan, such as more representatives answering phones and conducting live chats for questions about health coverage.
Additionally, there are more people in communities who are available “on the ground” to enroll people at county human service offices. Further advancements include insurance agents and website tools that enable a consumer to search for local help in their community.
Speaking to a certified enrollment counselor is a starting point for individuals who are interested in enrolling in a health care plan.
“You have a variety of choices,” Palmer said. “For people who are brand new to insurance, it is often helpful for them to have a knowledgeable enrollment counselor help them through the process.”
Counselors can be found at the two local Community Health Centers located in San Luis Obispo and Atascadero.
More information on the enrollment process can be found at the Covered California’s website.