Certified Enrollment Counselors

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California Trains Helpers to Enroll Consumers in Health Insurance

Edward Avalos assists consumers from his office at Gardner Health Center in San Jose. (Sarah Varney/Kaiser Health News)

Edward Avalos assists consumers from his office at Gardner Health Center in San Jose. (Sarah Varney/Kaiser Health News)

By Sarah Varney, Kaiser Health News and NPR

Luisa Blue, head of the local Service Employees International Union in San Jose, has five more months to spend a million dollars. The union received a grant from Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace and is using some of the money to call people in their homes at night and on the weekend, as part of a massive education effort.

“Over 4,000 (people) have said tell me more about Covered California and how can I enroll to get health insurance,” Blue says of her organization’s first two weeks on the case.

But once they’re primed to enroll, the hand-off to counselors who can help Californians sign up for coverage has been rocky. Many counselors are still attending training or are awaiting background checks and state-issued licenses; some just need a computer log-in.

The month of October was always supposed to be about drumming up interest, says Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director. The state never intended, he says, to have all counselors certified this early. Continue reading