SANTA MARIA, Calif. - More than 2 million Americans instantly had health coverage when the calendar turned over to 2014, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Our local public health departments say their work is just beginning.
Foot traffic was very high in December for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. The late-December deadline to enroll on the Covered California website in order to ensure January 1st coverage kept everyone busy.
Maria Gardner with the Santa Barbara County Social Services Department said, "we saw some brisk days with the extended deadlines, and so many more people were able to get covered because of that."
Both counties say it's too early to report the amount of people who signed up in December, but Santa Barbara County estimates that it's comparable to October and November enrollment combined, when more than 5,000 people in Region 12 signed up. Region 12 includes San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.
With people already starting to receive coverage, the Santa Barbara Public Health Department expects more people to take notice. Because of that, they expect many more people to be walking through their doors come next week.
"I think for folks that sort of realize that they did miss it but now want to get coverage as soon as possible, that we will also have some additional traffic for that, which is great," said Gardner.
For those eligible who haven't signed up for coverage yet, you still have time to enroll before the federal deadline of March 31st of this year, but the clock is ticking.
"I think it's important that folks not set this aside, that they actually begin to take those steps forward to seek coverage. because while March 31st is a decent window of opportunity, it will close," said Gardner.
For those of you who are looking to get health insurance via Covered California, we're told that if you enroll now, you should have coverage starting in early February.