Despite highly publicized glitches with the federal online health care exchange, officials from Covered California, the state’s new health insurance marketplace, say the statewide exchange is running smoothly, thanks largely to a county-staffed call center in Concord.
Since Oct. 1st, 129 workers in Concord have fielded calls from residents statewide about their health care options under Covered California.
For many of those callers, the information they receive is life-changing, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said at Tuesday morning’s Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting in Martinez.
“You are key partners with us in making history,” Lee told the board.
“We have Contra Costa employees who are answering calls from all Californians,” he said. “In many ways they aren’t answering calls, they’re answering prayers.”
Over the past two weeks alone, the Concord call center has received about 28,000 calls from Californians, many of whom are shopping for health insurance for the first time, he said.
Since the statewide exchange opened on Oct. 1st, some 2.2 million people have visited www.coveredca.com, and more than 156,000 people have called to speak to a Covered California call center representative, Lee said.
Callers are connected to a representative at the Concord facility or at a center in Rancho Cordova and get information about which health care plans they are eligible for under the Affordable Care Act.
A third call center is set to open in Fresno next month.
In Contra Costa County, some 36,000 residents now qualify for federal financial aid to help cover health care costs, and up to 30,000 qualify for Medi-Cal, according to Lee.
“Their families can live with the confidence that they won’t be in the poorhouse, being one of those 100,000 Californians a year who go bankrupt because they can’t cover the cost of health care,” he said.
And despite glitches with the federal health exchange website, such as long wait times to log onto the site, Lee said, “We’re working fine here in California.”
Angela Bullock-Hayes, who supervises the Concord call center site, also credited call center staff for helping Californians obtain health coverage, and added that the facility’s customer service representatives are continually undergoing training to better respond to callers’ queries.
Lee encouraged the county supervisors to inform constituents about their health care eligibility, especially during Covered California’s open enrollment period through March 31.
Residents statewide can learn what plans they qualify for by visiting www.coveredca.com or by calling (888) 975-1142.
The Concord call center is open 72 hours per week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
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