The first stop was the Fresno Call Center, one of the three California call centers, where about 450 people work during the Open Enrollment. They handle about 14,000 calls a day from all over the state; they peak at over 20,000 calls. Five of the staff travelled on the bus with us – incredibly knowledgeable, hard working and compassionate individuals with great phone voices.
Next stop was Salinas where Pete Delgado, the CEO of the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital hosted us. The hospital had just opened a rural health center in the underserved community of
Gonzalez and affiliated with a local multi-specialty physicians group to better serve the newly insured in their region. Their uncompensated care to the uninsured has dropped sharply and their
care to the newly insured has increased dramatically due to the ACA. At Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, several thousand Covered California members have received care, including:
- 2,574 incidents of general outpatient care.
- 893 treatments for broken bones and trauma.
- 141 incidents of care for pneumonia, heart attacks, strokes and kidney infections.
- 138 incidents of maternal health and childbirth.
- 51 incidents of pediatric care (including in neonatal intensive care units).
- 29 incidents of gastrointestinal and urological surgeries.
David, a new subscriber, was able to enroll his family in coverage costing less than $300 a month – a huge savings from the $1500 a month he was paying before getting coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Next stop was a Community Health Center, Salud Para la Gente in Watsonville, where local enrollment in the Affordable Care Act had reduced the uninsured rate in the local clinic from over 30% to 9%. The clinic was being expanded to meet the medical needs of the local community; and local high school students were getting important training and exposure through the clinic for future jobs in providing health care for their community.
My final stop on the day’s tour was the PHP Insurance agency in San Jose where enthusiastic young health insurance agents were serving the Vietnamese and Chinese communities in the Silicon Valley. The young agents sometimes stay in the office ‘til well after midnight processing the unprecedented numbers of new applicants now eligible for coverage under the ACA. I asked one young agent “why so many of their clients had no health coverage” and learned that they had temp jobs with no health benefits in local assembly plants.