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Covered California Enrollment Opens Nov. 1 With 3rd Insurance Option for Santa Barbara County

United Healthcare becames another carrier option with Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross for state health exchange customers

The Covered California bus tour started off by “spotlighting” San Diego while parked at the San Diego Convention Center. The bus tour will stop in Ventura on Tuesday and San Luis Obispo on Wednesday as part of the “Enroll Now” campaign to urge residents to sign up for health insurance by Jan. 31.
The Covered California bus tour started off by “spotlighting” San Diego while parked at the San Diego Convention Center. The bus tour will stop in Ventura on Tuesday and San Luis Obispo on Wednesday as part of the “Enroll Now” campaign to urge residents to sign up for health insurance by Jan. 31. (Contributed photo)

Covered California health insurance customers in Santa Barbara County will find a third company plus adult dental insurance options for 2016, along with lots of help picking a plan when the three-month enrollment period opens Nov. 1.

“I am thrilled to kick off another exciting open-enrollment period," said Dr. Takashi Wada, Santa Barbara County Public Health director. "We encourage enrollment into health care coverage and want to make it as easy as possible for people to enroll in Covered California.”

For 2016, United Healthcare will be the third option for county residents enrolled in health insurance through Covered California, joining Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross.

Additionally, Covered California will be offering optional adult dental coverage as an added benefit for those who enroll. Dental plan carriers are Dental Health Services, Delta Dental, Anthem Blue Cross and Premier Access.

The open enrollment period closes Jan. 31. 

Officials are working to notify uninsured consumers they may be eligible for financial help to buy health insurance, and have launched a statewide campaign to spread the word.

“We are ‘putting a spotlight on enrollment and coverage’ and highlighting care being delivered across the state to Covered California enrollees,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. 

“We want to make sure all uninsured Californians know that financial help is available to help people buy health insurance and that they can join thousands of Covered California consumers who are getting the care they need when they need it.”

Covered California is the state’s health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act and this marks the third enrollment period.

The organization has a vast network of enrollment locations, to make it easy for consumers to sign up and get help enrolling in an appropriate plan. 

For a list of certified insurance agents, navigators and other enrollment opportunities in the area, click here.

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics is among locations offering help to enroll people in Covered California or renew coverage. Officials suggest residents call for an appointment so staff can advise what documentation to bring. Those seeking help do not need to be a prior patient of the clinic.

“We have eight staff members that are already certified by Covered California to help the families in the community in Santa Barbara,” said Amalia Priego, health promotion services manager.

Those trained staff members are bilingual and located at all four medical clinic sites. In addition to helping people sign up, they can explain the difference between the various plans and providers.

“We’re delighted to be a resource,” added Dr. Charles Fenzi, interim chief executive officer and chief medical officer for Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.

The schedule for the first week is nearly full, Priego added.

“It’s going to be busy,” she said, adding she expects to see residents show up who were fined for not previously acquiring insurance, so they can avoid paying an another penalty.

The county Public Health Department also has worked to simplify applying for Covered California by scheduling events in each community and accepting appointments Monday through Friday, officials said.

The Public Health’s special enrollment assistance events include: 

» Lompoc Health Care Center, 301 North R St., Lompoc, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 14.

» Carpinteria Health Care Center, 931 Walnut Ave., Carpinteria, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 5.

» Santa Maria Health Care Center, 2115 S. Centerpointe Parkway, Santa Maria, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 12.

» Santa Barbara Health Care Center, 345 Camino Del Remedy, Santa Barbara, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 23.

Since January 2014, the Public Health Department has assisted more than 12,000 people and successfully enrolled over 6,000 into Medi-Cal or Covered California, officials said.

Covered California officials recently kicked off the statewide bus stop tour of hospitals, clinics and storefronts were residents can enroll.

The bus tour is scheduled to stop Nov. 3 in Ventura and Nov. 4 in San Luis Obispo.

The campaign also calls for hundreds of buildings and storefront locations to feature spotlights that say “Enroll Now” over the Covered California logo to raise public awareness about the opportunity to get health coverage.

Also, as part of the “Spotlight on Coverage” campaign many iconic buildings throughout California — Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento city halls; the San Diego Convention Center; the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport; Coit Tower in San Francisco — will light up with the Covered California colors for specific nights.

“We still need to raise awareness that open enrollment is a regular part of the new culture of coverage for our state and the nation,” Lee said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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.

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