Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 9:36 pm | Fair 43º


Local News

County, Clinics Still Working to Register Medi-Cal, Insurance Exchange Patients

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

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >