March 09--With the deadline looming to secure health insurance to avoid a penalty under the relatively new Affordable Care Act, a healthcare workers union held a free enrollment session in Vallejo on Saturday.
More than 60 people signed in to the three-hour session, which began at 10 a.m., at the Continental of Omega Boys and Girls Club in North Vallejo. It was organized by the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West.
"A lot of people don't have insurance," said volunteer Ann Morris."There are a lot of changes that are coming down, and I'm happy to be able to help anyone out with the process."
Morris has first-hand experience with uninsured patients as an employee at Kaiser Permanente, Vacaville.
The aim is to get uninsured Californians enrolled in either Covered California or Medi-Cal, before the March 31 deadline.
The process at the session was expected to take from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the situation of each individual or family, organizers said. Each person would sign in, get pre-screened for either Medi-Cal or Covered California, and then wait to speak with a certified enroller. There was also a table for children to entertain themselves while the adults went through with the process.
Many, like the Hinojoza family, enrolled in a plan Saturday.
"It was easy," Eberado Hinojoza said. "Took us about 45 minutes, not like waiting at the emergency room."
Hinojoza had signed up for a plan before Saturday but had questions about his situation, and brought his wife and brother to enroll in a plan themselves.
The three are temporary union workers who don't get health coverage between jobs.
However, some were at the session to get more information and weigh their options.
Husband and wife, Michael and Karina Rosales, were gathering information about getting an insurance for her.
Karina Rosales has been uninsured for about three months since her husband couldn't afford to pay the monthly cost to cover her through his workplace.
However, they weren't very happy about with the information they received at Saturday's session.
The family would have to pay about $300 per month to enroll her in a basic coverage, they said.
"We can't afford that right now," Michael Rosales said. "We just really need it for emergency purposes, it's not fair to charge us $300 a month. ... I thought this is supposed to help people who don't have insurance."
Although the Rosaleses left without health insurance for Karina, the couple said they were satisfied with the service given Saturday.
"They did a very good job," Michael Rosales said. "They provided us with the right information. We're just going to take home what we learn here, and see what we can do."
For anyone who missed Saturday's section, the group will hold another enrollment session in the area. From 4 to 7 p.m., March 19, another event will be held at McPherson Elementary School, 2670 Yajome St., Napa.
Everyone is required to bring proof of:
--Identity: ID, driver's license or passport.
--CA address: Postmarked mail addressed to applicant.
--Income: 2012 Income tax filling.
--Citizenship or immigration status: Birth certificate, permanent resident car, or passport.
The enrollers also will need to know birth dates, Social Security numbers and home ZIP code of each family member.
For more information, call 707-227-0830.
Contact staff writer Irma Widjojo at (707) 553-6835 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @IrmaVTH.
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