By Nick Macchione
Director – County Health & Human Services Agency
With the deadline looming to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), organizations certified to assist families and individuals in enrolling in health insurance are stepping up their efforts. Open enrollment to obtain health insurance coverage for 2014 through Covered California, the state health insurance marketplace, ends on Monday, March 31. After March 31, unless an individual or family has a “qualifying event,” such as a birth, marriage, or a divorce, they will not be able to sign up for health insurance again until Open Enrollment begins in October for coverage effective in 2015.
This Saturday, March 29, county Supervisor Ron Roberts, state Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, the County Health and Human Services Agency and the Council of Community Clinics are hosting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Community Forum and Resource Fair at the Normal Heights Community Center, 4649 Hawley Blvd, San Diego 92116.
Certified Enrollment Counselors will be available to answer questions about Covered California health plans, and do on-site enrollment. County staff will also be able to answer questions about Medi-Cal and enroll eligible participants in CalFresh, formerly known as Food Stamps.
“By partnering with the Council of Community Clinics, which is coordinating enrollment opportunities with Covered California, we can help people meet the March 31 deadline and get people connected with county health programs,” Supervisor Ron Roberts said.
Saturday’s Affordable Care Act Forum is the fifth in a series of enrollment events that together have been attended by more than 430 individuals in central and south San Diego County.
At a press conference in San Diego on March 4, state officials praised local efforts to enroll residents in health coverage with a repeated statement that “San Diego is doing a great job of enrolling individuals into health care,” Since the start of open enrollment in October, San Diego County has received and is processing 70,000 applications through Covered California.
Each town hall offered onsite enrollment and served as an informative session hosted by state and local elected officials, where attendees were able to hear topics that addressed options for affordable care, and apply for programs like CalFresh. Additionally, each town hall had a health fair with resources for the community.
In addition to Atkins and Roberts, prior elected officials who have participated in the ACA forum series include county Supervisors Greg Cox and Dave Roberts, state Senator Ben Hueso, state Assemblywomen Shirley Webber and Lorena Gonzalez, San Diego Councilwomen Myrtle Cole and Marti Emerald, Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox, and from National City Mayor Ron Morrison, Vice Mayor Luis Natividad, and Councilman Jerry Cano.
Saturday’s event will focus more on enrollment in order to help families and individuals meet the March 31 deadline.
“As we have done with our prior ACA forums during the past several months, the March 29th community forum and resource fair is another great opportunity to bring multiple services to residents in one convenient, neighborhood location,” said HHSA Director Nick Macchione. “We are fortunate to have dedicated and talented community partners with 211 San Diego, Council of Community Clinics and SAY San Diego, all working together with the common goal of helping link people to health insurance. We know San Diegans still have questions about healthcare enrollment and other assistance programs, and we’re looking forward to serving as many as we can at the March 29th event. In the end, it’s our hope that increased enrollment will lead to better health and wellness for children, families and seniors…a key aim of Live Well San Diego!”
For more information about the Affordable Care Act Community Forum and Resource Fair on March 29 and similar events, call 211 or go to 211SanDiego.org.