Across from a shoe store and next to a game shop is Healthcare Depot, with signs in Spanish and English. Insurance agent Miguel Palacios has just finished helping a family of seven sign up for insurance on healthcare.gov.
“There is a great need for healthcare coverage and especially for the low-middle class. There is a large Spanish population in Utah, and it’s growing, and there is a lot of people out there still in need,” Palacios says.
This storefront method was pioneered in Miami, Florida when enrollment in the Affordable Care Act first opened. The agency has expanded to Texas, California, and now Utah.
“There are a lot of people that are not educated on this benefit, on the aid that’s out there for them to be able to have health insurance,” says Raiza Sakamoto, Community Outreach Director for Healthcare Depot in Utah. “Then, what ends up happening is that they literally find out they do qualify for the subsidy, and oh my gosh, I can’t believe my premium is so low, and oh my gosh, I get that covered, this is incredible, thank you so much! We’re getting that a lot.”
Healthcare Depot partners with Molina Healthcare to raise awareness about enrollment. Most of the policies the agents sell are with Molina. The managed care company was founded in Long Beach, California by a Hispanic emergency room physician who wanted to help low-income people access healthcare. Adam Grimaldo is a regional broker manager with Molina. He says these new outreach efforts further their mission.
“It really fits into why we’re in business and that is to provide quality healthcare to those that really need it the most,” Grimaldo says.
As word spreads about the rising costs of federal penalties for not having insurance, the agents at Healthcare Depot say more people are seeking their assistance.
by Andrea Smarden, KUER.org