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Health Department kicks off open enrollment for Covered California

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department launched Covered California’s fourth open-enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act on Friday.

Officials held a press conference and kickoff event at the Santa Barbara Health Care Center.

“In the region, which includes San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, we have 66,743 individuals enrolled in Covered California plans,” said Dr. Takashi Wada, Director of Santa Barbara County Public Health.

Since 2011, the rate of adults under 65 without health insurance in the county was 22%. With implementation of the Affordable Care Act, that number has decreased to 15.5%,” Wada said.

For the first time under the Affordable Care Act, average premiums will rise by double digits.

Californians on average will see a 13% increase but Santa Barbara County residents may pay even more.

“They are encouraged to shop around and see what other options are available. Here in Santa Barbara, you will have two health insurance companies to choose from. The average increase here is about 15%,” said Yurina Melara, a representative for Covered California.

Residents who earn less than $16,000 per year quality for free coverage through Medi-Cal.

Subsidies are available for residents who earn between $16,000 and $47,000 per year. On average, 90% of all people enrolled in Covered California have some type of subsidy, according to Melara.

People who earn more than $47,000 per year and are single can buy health insurance through the exchange, but will not receive subsidies.

Open enrollment started on Nov. 1 and ends on Jan. 31.

People who want their insurance coverage to begin by Jan. 1 must enroll by Dec. 15.

For help enrolling locally, call 805-681-5393.

For more information about Covered California, click here.

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