By Melissa Murphy, The Vacaville Reporter
The deadline to sign up for health care is only three days away.
Open enrollment for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) closes Monday and the next opportunity to enroll won’t be until October.
That’s why Solano Coalition for Better Health is still accepting appointments, even scheduling them for Saturday. The coalition provides Covered California and other enrollment assistance free of charge at sites throughout Solano County, including Dixon, Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville and Vallejo. For an appointment call 800-978-7547.
“We’re booked solid, so we added Saturday,” said Joanie Erickson, executive director of Solano Coalition for Better Health. “We want to sit down and help people understand the documents and make the right choice that’s best for them.”
There is some leeway now.
Even though California is sticking to Monday’s health insurance enrollment deadline, consumers will have extra time to finish their applications.
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said Wednesday that people who start an application on the state’s health insurance exchange by 11:59 p.m. Monday will have until April 15 to finish.
The announcement comes after the Obama administration said it would allow people additional time to sign up in certain situations.
The state’s health insurance exchange is still encouraging Californians to sign up and avoid a tax penalty.
Covered California has surpassed 1 million enrollees, despite problems with its website and complaints about long wait times or unanswered calls for people seeking help through its service centers.
In Solano County, clients haven’t seen that difficulty.
“It was really easy,” Nicole Brownell told The Reporter last month, adding that she met a representative at the library and showed them a Pacific Gas & Electric bill, her Social Security card and a pay stub. “I just answered some questions and they did the work for me.”
She added that her roommate had a similar experience signing up for health insurance through Covered California.
Brownell said she signed up for the insurance because it’s now required under the Affordable Care Act and because she doesn’t work enough hours at her job for the company to pay a portion of the insurance. Now, she pays $90 per month for health coverage through Kaiser Permanente.
Solano Coalition staff can also provide information and enrollment assistance for other low-cost or free health coverage options. These include Medi-Cal and Healthy Kids, in addition to Covered California options.
Because of the Medi-Cal expansion portion of the Affordable Care Act, more people than ever before are now eligible for Medi-Cal. Enrollment specialists can also help to determine eligibility for the expanded Medi-Cal.
For information on Covered California and signing up for health insurance, visit www.solanocoalition.org. To make an appointment for assistance, call (707) 863-4444.