It’s open enrollment time for millions of Californians who’ve enjoyed health insurance and quality medical care through the Affordable Care Act. And Covered California, the state agency that administers the law, once again is leading the charge to get people signed up.
“The Affordable Care Act is now irrevocably woven into the fabric of America,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “We are not going back to the days when health insurance companies could turn people away because of a pre-existing condition. Instead, we are looking forward to strengthening a system that is working and building on the historic gains we have made.”
Consumers must sign up for new health insurance and renew or change existing health plans by Dec. 15 to have their coverage begin on Jan. 1, 2019. Covered California enrollment will continue through Jan. 15.
“We know that life can change in an instant, and it’s important to have health coverage when it does,” Lee said.
More than 3.5 million consumers have been enrolled through Covered California at one time or another since 2014. About 1.3 million consumers were enrolled in 2018, with nine out of 10 getting financial assistance to help them pay for coverage. In fact, Covered California has helped cut the state’s uninsured rate to a historic low of 6.8 percent.
“Covered California has been a key factor for what we’re doing for our community, and we right away saw the tie-in between good health and economic health,” said Pepi Jackson, President Riverside County Black Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of people don’t know that they can now afford health insurance. It’s almost like, you can’t afford not to have it.”
“Utilization is the key,” Jackson added. “Even with health insurance, if you don’t utilize it, it’s almost like not having it. We want to make sure people understand their access to health insurance.”
An estimated 1.1 million uninsured Californians are eligible to enroll in Covered California and new research shows that 82 percent of uninsured consumers surveyed, who are eligible for financial help to pay their monthly health care costs, do not know that they qualify for subsidies that can help bring that life-saving coverage within reach.
Last month Covered California launched an ad campaign that shows that the average consumer pays $5 a day for health insurance, with many paying much less. Consumers can find out whether they qualify for financial help, and see which plans are available in their area with the Shop and Compare Tool.
In addition, Covered California took its message to the streets by again launching its iconic statewide bus tour to encourage sign-ups, with a theme that “life can change in an instant.” The 10-day, 23-stop tour traveled more than 1,600 miles, beginning in Sacramento and visiting Oakland, San Jose, Salinas, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Desert, Riverside, Bakersfield and Fresno. Covered California sought to top previous outreach efforts with attention-grabbing, local dance crews depicting unexpected health hazards and joyous events like the birth of a child at each bus stop.
“No one wants to face a million-dollar medical bill alone, which is why you need health insurance, and a plan through Covered California will protect you and your family when you need it,” Lee said.
Those interested in learning more about their health coverage options can go to http://www.CoveredCA.com, where they can enroll online or get free, confidential help to sign up for health plans from local certified enrollers in their area. Consumers can also enroll by calling Covered California’s service center toll-free at (800) 300-1506.