MARIN, Calif. (KGO) --Estimates released by the state show one Marin County neighborhood has the highest percentage of uninsured among those eligible for Covered California in the Bay Area. This Bay Area county is one of the richest counties in the nation. So why the high number of uninsured and what can be done about it?
Jamari Temple, 29, can't keep the trunk shut on his car without the help of a hanger. The damage resulted from an auto accident that sent the San Rafael resident to the emergency room. "Not badly hurt, I still have a little bit of pain, but it was a little bit of a scare," he said.
On that day, Temple didn't have health insurance, so he went to the office of Wesley Cadell to enroll in Covered California.
Families who still are without health insurance at the end of this month face a penalty of $695 per person, or 2.5 percent of their household income; whichever is more.
It's a penalty Temple has paid before, but wants to avoid again. "There's no point in paying a tax penalty for something that I should already have anyway," he said.
Seven point four percent of those in San Rafael's Canal District who are eligible for Covered California are without insurance.
That's the highest of any neighborhood in the Bay Area, which ranges from San Francisco at 3.2 percent to Contra Costa County at 5.1 percent.
Cadell, who works for World Financial Group, knows firsthand what it's like to be without health insurance. His family of six children were without for a year. "The difficulties of being uninsured was that we didn't know if we were going to have an incident come up and then have to pay out of pocket," he said.
At the federally subsidized Marin Community Clinic in the Canal District, there are four staff members who provide free assistance to enroll in Covered California. "There are pockets of great need in Marin County and almost 27 percent of our residents live below self sufficiencies," said Julie Michaels with Marin County Health & Human Services.
The clinic serves a high concentration of Hispanics. Bilingual assistance is available, but it may not be enough. "They can do outreach," said Michaels. "I think we just need to get better at that," Michaels said.
In the last two years, Marin County has enrolled 15,000 people into Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act and enrolled 12,000 into Covered California.