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Mid-City CAN Blog

Obamacare enrollment event answers questions

Tesfaldet Kidanemariam
Kidanemariam

On March 18, dozens of City Heights residents and those from the surrounding areas came to the East African Community and Cultural Center to learn about Obamacare and get health insurance coverage.

The Health Care Enrollment Event was from 8:30 a.m. until noon and drew dozens of residents seeking more information about the Affordable Care Act.

For community members like Tesfaldet Kidanemariam, the event came at the perfect time, he said. He is a part-time employee without health insurance.

"People like me in the Eritrean and Ethiopian community don't have much information about the health system," Kidanemariam said. "The system [of finding out information about health care] is not working because of politics."

At the event, Kidanemariam was able to get coverage.

"Signing up took me not more than 15, 20 minutes," he said.

Kidanemariam was so excited about signing up for insurance that he called several of his friends and even brought one friend back to the event to enroll.

Organizations that participated in the event hosted by Mid-City CAN included Huda Community Center, SAY San Diego, Catholic Charities diocese of San Diego, La Maestra Community Health Centers and ACLU California Voting Rights Project.

"I'm struck by the fact that there are still a lot of people who haven't signed up yet," said Julia Navaro, who was volunteering at the event and is a student on an exchange from Antioch College in Ohio. "I think I it is awesome how many organizations are here helping people enroll."

Hudo Ahmed, health programs coordinator at the Huda Community Center, said many low-income residents are convinced to sign up after they see the numbers on CoveredCA.com Photo by Adam Ward

Hudo Ahmed, health programs coordinator at the Huda Community Center, said many low-income residents are convinced to sign up after they see the numbers on CoveredCA.com

Photo by Adam Ward

Hudo Ahmed, health programs coordinator at the Huda Community Center, said her organization deals with many young men similar to Kidanemariam who haven't signed up for insurance. She finds that lack of awareness and overconfidence often keeps this group, sometimes called young invincibles because of their cavalier attitude, from enrolling.

"People say, 'I never get sick," Ahmed said. "I never go to the doctor. I don't need it.' "

Those seeking a government subsidy in California, must enroll through the CoveredCA.com website. The deadline to enroll is March 31 and will not reopen until October for coverage the following year. Those who have qualifying events, which typically include things like getting married or having children, may be able to sign up after March 31 for coverage this year.

The most powerful tool for Ahmed is the Shop and Compare calculator on the CoveredCA site. People can put in basic information like their age, income and ZIP code and get a rough estimate of how much they would pay each month after a government subsidy.

She said the population she is focusing on includes taxi drivers and low-income members of the Somali community who may be inclined to gamble that they won't require expensive medical treatment.

One example she gave is a young man earning $20,000 a year who could get silver coverage for $54 a month on Health Net or $24 for the bronze plan, which requires higher co-pays.

"So we tell them that for $20 a month, you're secured, you are fine," she said. She also tells them that if they sign up for silver plan their Emergency Room maximum cost would be significantly lower than the thousands of dollars they would likely pay without insurance.

"We are signing people up by showing them they are definitely benefitting in the long run," she said.

Some participants just needed to double check that their insurance would protect them from a penalty for the uninsured, assessed on 2014 tax returns: the larger amount, either $95 for each adult, or 1 percent of a household's income.

"I found out about this event through promotoras ," Maribella Abed, a City Heights resident, said in Spanish. "I didn't enroll, but found out more information, because I have Medi-Cal I'm OK."

Medi-Cal is a public insurance program for low-income Californians.

For Ahmed, the key is to try to get people signed up as soon as possible.

"If people are thinking about waiting until the last minute, they shouldn't," she said. "I get the feeling the website might have a heavy load.

We want them to be safe."

La Maestra volunteer Elba Espinoza and Mid-City CAN intern Leah Ko welcome visitors to the March 18 Health Care Enrollment Event at the East African Community and Cultural Center.  Photo by Adam Ward
La Maestra volunteer Elba Espinoza and Mid-City CAN intern Leah Ko welcome visitors to the March 18 Health Care Enrollment Event at the East African Community and Cultural Center. Photos by Adam Ward
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Tiempo que queda para inscribirte:

06D
03H
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Get Covered California
Get+covered+or+get+a+penalty.+The+health+care+enrollment+period+ends+March+31.+Enroll+Now+http%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2FOsT1OD+%23GetCovered Open+enrollment+for+health+coverage+ends+March+31.+Enroll+Now+http%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2F1gxNigv+%23GetCovered Get+peace+of+mind+and+get+covered.+Open+enrollment+for+health+coverage+ends+March+31.+Enroll+Now+http%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2F1mfzz64+%23GetCovered Enroll+in+affordable%2C+quality+health+care+before+March+31.+Enroll+Now+http%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2F1p7RAQQ+%23GetCovered

Time left to Enroll:

06 D
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