Thousands of people in Santa Barbara have health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
If it is repealed or replaced as Republicans are planning, it could affect Santa Barbara’s most vulnerable communities. These people are often 26 years old, single and living under the poverty line.
The deadline to register for Obamacare is January 31. Agents and healthcare providers are encouraging residents to apply.
“Some people are wonder, do I even need to do this? Is this worth my time? What’s going to happen to my insurance?” said Gabriela Ferrusquilla, a Covered California agent with CoreGen Insurance Agency, LLC in Santa Barbara’s Eastside.
Ferrusquilla estimates 90% of her clients used to live without health insurance before the Affordable Care Act was passed.
“Some may have had insurance through jobs, but now they don’t work there anymore. They could go without insurance because they didn’t know where else to get it or it wasn’t affordable for them,” said Ferrusquilla.
She was also someone who didn’t have insurance before Obamacare.
“My first insurance was one dollar a month, which it’s all based on income,” said Ferrusquilla.
Talks about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and the fear its caused is spreading. Down the street at the Eastside Neighborhood Clinic, doctors are also encouraging patients to renew their plan or register for healthcare.
“They did not have insurance before that and so they have had a sip of the wine now. They’ve had preventative health visits. They’ve had help with covering their chronic diseases, so it’s going to be very important to continue that relationship with our patients,” said Doctor Charles Fenzi, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.
Fenzi is a doctor and CEO of the neighborhood clinics. He says while Obamacare isn’t perfect, it has helped people who were ignored before.
“The folks we’re taking care of are just really thankful that we’re here. Many of them are new to this country and m any of them send money back home and want to be partners in their health care so they can stay healthy enough to do that. So they can continue to work and send money back home,” said Fenzi.