Friday, Mar 21 2014 04:32 PM

Enrollment events help uninsured sign up through Covered California

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    By Courtenay Edelhart/ The Californian

    Health care advocates Friday held a news conference encouraging people to sign up for health insurance ahead of the March 31 Covered California deadline. There are enrollment workshops coming up March 22 and 29 in Bakersfield. From left: Paola Fernandez, organizer, California Partnership; Romala Ramkissoon, director of family, youth and community services at Community Action Partnership; Veronica Loya-Alcocer, health care navigator/outreach supervisor for Omni Family Health; and Edgar Aguilar, program manager for Dignity Health Hospitals.

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As the open enrollment deadline approaches for Covered California, there will be two enrollment workshops at the East Bakersfield Community Health Center this week.

Consumers have until March 31 to sign up for insurance through the state's healthcare marketplace, Covered California, or for some other health insurance plan -- or face tax penalties. The penalty for 2014 is $95 or 1 percent of gross income, whichever is greater.

The workshops are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday and again on March 29 at the center, 815 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Ten certified enrollment assisters will be there to answer questions and help with applications. Consumers should bring proof of income, identification, proof of address and proof of citizenship or legal residency.

Healthcare advocates held a news conference at the offices of the Dolores Huerta Foundation Friday to urge the uninsured to sign up, especially young adults and Hispanics, two groups whose enrollment numbers have lagged those of the general population.

"Cesar Chavez's birthday is March 31, and we're working hard to enroll immigrants who are eligible," said Camila Chavez, the foundation's executive director. "Our outreach workers have knocked on thousands of doors and handed out thousands of flyers."

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