Sunday is the deadline to sign up for a new health insurance plan if you’re buying your own. Covered California says there will be hundreds of enrollment events around the state to give people in-person help. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone dropped in on one this week in Sacramento.
At Highlands High School in North Sacramento, 32 families have trickled in during the first couple of hours of this enrollment event.
Jondie Hare works in the school district cafeteria. She says her job-based coverage for herself and her sons costs $600 a month. She's looking for something less expensive.
Hare: “I need more money every month and they take a lot out of my paycheck. I’m single and I need as much as I can get.”
Organizers say other people seeking sign up help today are part-time workers, older couples in their 50s, or people looking to re-enroll in Medi-Cal. Hellan Roth Dowden is with Teachers for Healthy Kids.
Dowden: “We’ve found that schools are places that parents trust, and it’s one of the places that we’ve been very successful in enrolling families in no or low cost health insurance.”
Dowden says flyers for the enrollment event went home in kids' backpack and parents got robocalls. John Navarro says more marketing may have been needed to bring people out to events like this. He’s an insurance agent.
Navarro: “Compared to last year, we had a lot more enrollees. We’re hoping that things will increase in the end.”
Navarro says during last year's open enrollment period, he signed up more than 200 people. This year, his sign-ups are down 60%. Dowden of Teachers for Healthy Kids says it's not as easy to sign people up this year.
Dowden: “Now we’re hitting people who are maybe a little bit harder to reach. And so the outreach activities are more targeted to those communities where we know that we need to make a little extra effort.”
Covered California says more than 350,000 people have selected a health plan so far. People who get help signing up before the Sunday deadline will have until February 20th to finish their applications.