A room full of people waited up to 45 minutes at a Sacramento union hall to sign up for the Covered California health care exchange on the final day of open enrollment. Union organizers called it a 17-hour “enroll-a-thon.” The dozens of people in the room just before lunchtime spread across all age groups and were nearly all minorities.
26-year-old Martyce Moore of Sacramento, who’s currently unemployed, says he’d rather not pay for health insurance. But he figures it’s better than paying a fine for NOT having insurance. “It’s something that I’ve been procrastinating to do, but it’s the last day, so I had to hurry up and get in here and sign up for this Obamacare,” he says.
Not everyone at the “enroll-a-thon” was happy about being there. “Generally, whoever I’m working with is who I have health care with,” says 45-year-old carpenter Anthony Gagliardo, who drove about 45 minutes from Auburn. “But right now I’m not working. I had an eye injury, so right now I have no source of income, I’m waiting for my second surgery, so I have to get health care. I have no choice.”
Crecencio Garcia of West Sacramento says he tried to enroll by phone, but couldn’t, so he came to apply in person. At 51, the unemployed pastry chef says he likes the idea of having insurance, but isn’t sure how well the federal health care law will work – or if he can afford the monthly premiums. And although he started his application process, he left without finding out how much his coverage will cost. “They say the system is too slow, and we got a lot of people, so I make room for another people. He gonna call me in a couple days,” Garcia says.
Garcia and other Californians who started their insurance applications by the midnight deadline will have until April 15th to complete them.
Covered California says its recent enrollment numbers show more Latinos and young people signed up this year.
The Nevada state health exchange is calling this year’s open enrollment a success, with nearly twice the number of enrollees in half the amount of time as last year.
Sunday is the deadline to sign up for a new health insurance plan if you’re buying your own. Covered California says there will be hundreds of enrollment events around the state to give people in-person help.
California chronic disease patients say new trends in insurance coverage for prescription drugs are discriminatory.
Californians may be able to save money if they switch from COBRA health coverage to Covered California plans.