FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lucresha Renteria, Executive Director
email@example.com | (707) 964-1251
Covered California Health Insurance Extends Deadline to August 31
Fort Bragg, CA – The spike in unemployment caused by COVID-19 has left many coastal residents without employee-sponsored health insurance, a situation mirrored statewide. In response, Covered California recently extended its health insurance enrollment deadline to August 31, allowing more time for Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) to help local people register for health coverage for themselves and their families.
“Under the best of circumstances, choosing and enrolling in health insurance programs can be confusing. With COVID-19, the need for insurance has become urgent and figuring it all out can feel overwhelming,” said MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria.
At Federally Qualified Health Centers like MCC, patient advocates offer a free service to support patients through the process of enrolling in whichever health insurance program is most appropriate for them, whether it is Covered California, Medi-Cal/Partnership HealthPlan, choosing Medicare supplemental plans, and other insurance types. All three of MCC’s Patient Advocates are bilingual in English and Spanish. Most of the services are currently provided over the phone with the only need for a visit to the clinic being for signatures or delivery of necessary paperwork.
Covered California is California’s answer to the national Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (sometimes called Obamacare). Covered California is a health insurance exchange offering many options and it can be difficult to know which one is best, both in terms of cost and with regard to which programs local care providers accept.
Partnership HealthPlan of California (Medi-Cal)
Medi-Cal is California’s version of the federal Medicaid program, which offers health insurance for people with incomes below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($17,237 for an individual; $35,535 for a family of four) or for those who meet strict disability criteria. In Mendocino County, Partnership HealthPlan is the company that administers Medi-Cal benefits.
For those 65 and older, MCC patient advocates can help U.S. citizens and qualified immigrants enroll in Medicare, the federal health insurance program for older adults. MCC Patient Advocate Albert Anderson said, “People who are not on Social Security should look into applying for Medicare three months before their sixty-fifth birthday, because they will not receive a Medicare card automatically.”
Medicare has three parts:
- Part A provides inpatient/hospital coverage.
- Part B provides outpatient/medical coverage.
- Part D provides prescription drug coverage.
There are two types of supplemental plans available to fill the gaps and deductibles in Medicare coverage. MCC’s patient advocates can help people decide which options best fit their individual needs.
In addition to health insurance, MCC’s patient advocates assist with other types of support, such as CalFresh (formerly called SNAP or food stamps) and Social Security benefits. Advocates can explain correspondence from the government about health-related programs and assist with permanent federal disability applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). During the annual enrollment for medication benefits associated with Medicare, they assist with Medicare Part D screenings.
For uninsured or underinsured patients who qualify, MCC’s patient advocates can reduce healthcare costs by applying a sliding fee scale to the care provided at MCC. For most low-income patients, enrolling in a federal or state health insurance program provides peace of mind and more affordable health care.
Renteria said, “If you are currently uninsured or looking for options for your healthcare coverage, call us at (707) 964-1251 and schedule an appointment with one of our patient advocates. Their services are free and confidential. You may be surprised what you qualify for and how inexpensive some health insurance programs can be.”
MCC is a non-profit, federally qualified health center providing medical, dental and behavioral health care to residents from Westport to Elk and inland to Comptche in Mendocino County for more than 25 years. Visit www.mendocinocoastclinics.org for more information.</center>