Reporting Dave Padilla
CONCORD (KCBS) — With major parts of the Affordable Care Act taking effect on Tuesday, the Covered California call center in Concord said they are prepared to answer questions about health care reform.
The call center went through a soft launch last month, giving its 135 customer service agents a chance to work out some kinks in the system.
Site manager Angela Bullock-Hayes said calls will begin 8 a.m. and the center will be ready.
“First day, we believe that our calls could be about 25 to 30 calls per agent, which can be about 4,000 calls expected [Tuesday],” she said.
Bullock-Hayes said there could be some surprises as people shop for the best health insurance plan that meets their needs.
“We don’t know what to expect, so I think as far as the training that we’ve received thus far, it has been sufficient. With any new challenge, there’s always going to be something that will come up that you didn’t anticipate,” she said.
While the Concord call center touts preparedness, the New York Times recently highlighted some call centers around the country that may not be ready to go. The Times also reported that “small businesses would not be able to buy coverage online through federally-run exchanges until November.”
Executive Director of Covered California, Peter Lee is not a federal employee and neither are the people that work in his call centers.
“It’s a huge enterprise. California, over two years ago said, ‘we want to do this Affordable Care Act thing right for Californians’ and said ‘We’re going to design it, anchored in California’,” he said.
The website coveredca.com is already live and consumers can start browsing for plans, but cannot buy until Tuesday. Consumers can enter their age, zip code and how many people are in their family for a sense of what their options are.
“Everyone has access to affordable health care,” he said. “It’s a right, not a privilege not based on how much money you make. Not based on your health status.”
Lee commented that politicians in Washington are still trying to make what has been dubbed, ‘Obamacare’ a “political football”. He distanced himself, and said, “Let them do what they want to do”, but he stressed that it’s already the law of the land.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)