Covered California customer service hub in Fresno
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Action News continues our series of special reports to help you understand the Affordable Care Act. Come October, thousands of Valley residents will be able to enroll in medical coverage through "Covered California" the state's insurance marketplace. People across the state will be getting help from a call center located at Palm and Herndon in Fresno.
The state is rushing to get the center open as employees will start training in about two weeks. That means hundreds of Valley residents are now cramming to study up on the new law.
On Wednesday, crews were moving office supplies and trash cans into the new building as phone lines were being installed and desks were being assembled.
Athena Fleming, information officer for Covered California said, "there's a lot of excitement going on around here."
The building was once a call center for Bank of America, so it's already equipped and ready for Covered California. For the past few months, the state has been looking for technicians to field phone calls. Action News was in Downtown Fresno back in April, when a thousand people lined up for testing.
Thus far, 158 have been hired and will start training on October 7th, in order to take the first phone calls which are expected to come in on November 18th.
Fleming said, "Health care is very complex we want to make sure the individuals who are answering know what they're talking about and can really help individuals find the best plan for them."
The state is expecting a flood of questions about medical coverage. Fresno and the two other call centers will be able to house 300 different languages. The Rancho Cordova location just opened and the third is in Contra Costa.
So, why Fresno? Well the State asked cities to bid and Fresno expressed interest.
Fleming said, "We wanted a diverse population, we wanted a lot of different languages and a good representation of the state."
The state liked the fact that Fresno is centrally located and has the workforce to support the jobs that are needed, something that the Employment Development Department echoes.
Steven Gutierrez, who works in the Labor Market Information Division of the Employment Development Department said, "That's a win-win for everybody, especially here and the local economy here in Fresno because these will be full time positions with health benefits, 401ks."
The Valley has been a hot spot for call centers something that Gutierrez hopes will continue into 2014.
Covered California is expecting to have 300 employees to answer all of those health care questions by the New Year.
covered california, health, stephanie stone
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