Covered California is back. The county Public Health Department held a news conference Friday morning to kick-off the fourth open enrollment period for Covered California. It was announced that all five county health centers will be provided with certified enrollment representatives to answer questions and help the public with the enrollment and renewal process. The Public Health Department has over 40 certified application counselors taking appointments Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Counselors can also help determine if you’re eligible to receive federal subsides to lower the cost of coverage.

The open enrollment period extends from November 1 to January 31, 2017. However, those seeking to have their health plans begin by January 1 must enroll before December 15.

This is the fourth enrollment cycle since the launch of the Affordable Care Act. Since it began, there has been a decrease nationwide in those who are uninsured. California has seen the largest decrease yet. Yurina Melara, Covered California public information officer, spoke at Friday’s press conference. The uninsured rate in California has ben halved by 3.2 million people, she said, more than the next three states combined.

Melara also spoke on the premiums that are set to increase this coming year. The average increase rate in Santa Barbara will be 15 percent, she said. However, Melara assured, 80 percent of people will not experience more than a 5 percent bump in their premium if they decided to switch insurance plans. Others may qualify for financial help. She encouraged people to shop around.

Contact the Santa Barbara County of Public Health Department to schedule an appointment.

Children qualify for services regardless of immigration status.


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