Antonia Briones (left), an Alameda County Social Services Agency eligibility technician, helps Gabino Pablo (right) with Covered California enrollment as the deadline approaches. (Rachel Dornhelm/KQED)
The robocall went out this week to every parent of an Oakland public school student:
“Hello! This is the Oakland Unified School District calling to remind you that March 31st is the deadline for enrolling in health insurance … The OUSD Central Family Resource Center is here to help.”
The day after that call went out the Central Family Resource Center, housed in a small portable building. was swamped. Over a 100 calls came in and 30 families dropped by.
“We’re just getting flooded with calls and people dropping in asking for appointments so we’re all hands on deck trying to respond to the demand,” said Eliza Schiffrin, the center’s program coordinator.
Oakland parent Gabino Pablo came in to sign up for coverage for himself, and Medi-Cal for his 5 week old daughter. He said he knew the deadline was looming, but has no internet access at home.
“I don’t speak much English. I am Mayan, my second language is Spanish and it’s hard,” said Pablo. “A lot of people need help [signing up]. When I go home from here, I am going to tell people I know and send them over here.”
Pablo estimates that only 1 in 10 of the adults in his immediate community are signed up for health insurance.
Schiffrin says the center has taken their staff on the road, too, visiting individual schools to help people sign up.