BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Enrollment specialists across the state spent Wednesday enrolling people into the new, expanded Medicaid program in Louisiana.
Open enrollment started Wednesday and thousands of people in the state wasted no time signing up.
"Tons will be eligible because it's so many people that, you know fell into that range of no coverage," said Stephanie Harold, an enrollment specialist at Care South in Baton Rouge.
Previously, a household of three had to have an income of less than $3,500 a year. Now, that income limit has jumped significantly to around $27,000 a year.
Harold believes this will lead to a healthier Baton Rouge, now that more people are insured and can see doctors.
"Get in and see a primary care doctor and don't have to worry about it," Harold said. "A lot of people, you know, they skip doctor appointments or they don't go until it's too late or they go to the emergency room and run up a big bill."
An applicant also needs to be between the ages of 19 and 64 and meet the Department of Health and Hospitals' citizenship requirement.
The DHH estimates that this program will provide healthcare to more than 350,000 people in Louisiana.
"We know we have hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana who have problems getting access to healthcare," said Ruth Kennedy, the Medicaid expansion project director. "Having a Medicaid card or being enrolled in Medicaid doesn't assure better health outcomes, but it is absolutely the gateway."
Open enrollment coverage in Louisiana will begin on Friday, July 1, 2016. There are 31 states plus the District of Columbia that have adopted the federal expansion program.
People can apply for Medicaid online, by phone, or set an appointment with a healthcare clinic. There are dozens in East Baton Rouge Parish. Clinic employees say you should bring a photo ID, proof of social security number, and proof of income for your entire household, such as a pay stub.