The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, local clinics and private insurance brokers are still helping people register for plans through the state-run Covered California exchange and Medi-Cal.
So-called enrollment counselors are reimbursed for their help through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rollout, so their assistance is offered at no cost to consumers.
The exchange offers private insurance plans through Anthem Blue Cross or Blue Shield for Santa Barbara County residents, with varying levels of government subsidies. The open-enrollment period ends March 31.
By Monday, the Public Health Department had helped 2,137 individuals and families enroll in health-care benefits through either the Covered California exchange or Medi-Cal, the state-funded health benefits program.
The county has submitted 1,886 applications for people and estimates that 1,818 of them have become enrolled so far, Public Health spokeswoman Susan Klein-Rothschild said.
Public Health head Dr. Takashi Wada called the enrollment efforts impressive, and gave credit to the intensive staff trainings and dedication of employees to help people with appointments.
There are appointments available at every county health center, including after-hours, and people just need to bring documentation related to residency and income, Klein-Rothschild said.
CenCal Health, the Medi-Cal agency for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, is preparing for 30,000 newly enrolled patients by mid-2015.
It had 560 signed up as of Wednesday, and expect about 2,000 by the end of January, CenCal Health CEO Bob Freeman said. Those numbers are above the projections, he noted.
All these new Medi-Cal patients will be integrated into CenCal Health’s system in January, when they’ll be matched with primary-care providers, Freeman said. They are getting benefits in January, but the state is making providers bill the state directly in an effort to expedite applications.
“The benefits are the same,” Freeman said. “As to the providers, the bigger ones (hospitals, clinics, etc.) already know how the bill the state directly. If there was a smaller provider office that wasn’t familiar with this, we’d walk them through it if needed. We’re not worried about that.”
For insurance plans through the Covered California exchange, people need to sign up by Jan. 15 to get health-care coverage starting Feb. 1.
There are more than 60 private agents and 16 public agencies — including clinics and county departments — offering free help to sign up, which can all be found on the exchange’s website here.
To schedule an appointment directly with the Public Health Department, contact a health-care center directly, Klein-Rothschild said. There are some appointments available after normal business hours, she added.
Carpinteria Health Care Center
931 Walnut Ave.
Carpinteria, CA 93013
Franklin Health Care Center
1136 E. Montecito St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Santa Barbara Health Care Center
345 Camino Del Remedio
Santa Barbara, CA 93455
Lompoc Health Care Center
301 North R St.
Lompoc, CA 93436
Santa Maria Health Care Center
2115 S. Centerpointe Pkwy.
Santa Maria, CA 93455