SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California officially kicked off its annual open-enrollment period on Monday with a statewide effort to encourage Californians to protect themselves, their families and their friends from the COVID-19 pandemic by wearing a mask and signing up for health care coverage. The campaign includes sending face masks, emblazoned with the message “Get Covered/Stay Covered,” to every Covered California enrollee who is renewing their coverage as well as all new enrollees.
“The pandemic shines a light on the importance of health insurance and access to quality care, and now is the time when people can sign up for coverage through Covered California,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “We will be reaching into every corner of the state to encourage Californians to keep COVID-safe and to get health coverage now.”
An estimated 1.2 million uninsured people in the state are either eligible for financial help through the exchange, or they qualify for low-cost or no-cost coverage through Medi-Cal.
“Covered California opens the door to quality care by making financial assistance available to help Californians get the coverage they need. Now is the time to get covered and stay covered,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Sonya Young Aadam, CEO of the California’s Black Women’s Health Project, joined the panel of distinguished guests and spoke about the importance of health care, particularly in the Black community. “We advocate statewide for policies and practices that address the social and system determinates of health and the elimination of disparities in the health outcomes for Black women, families and communities. Continued access and coverage under Covered California are of paramount importance in addressing disparities, especially those that have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Aadam.
Implications of the Presidential Election and Context of Supreme Court Hearing
The launch of the statewide campaign comes in the midst of two critical developments regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act. Most importantly, President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on two core health care issues — responding effectively to the COVID pandemic and building on the health care law to make it work better, including expanding financial help and coverage options for millions of Americans.
California has been on the forefront nationally of implementing and protecting the Affordable Care Act. While the inauguration of Biden will take place after open enrollment has closed for much of the nation, Californians will be able to sign up through Jan. 31.
Get Covered, Stay Covered
In an effort to promote open enrollment and make clear the connection between insurance coverage and the COVID pandemic, Covered California will be mailing masks (see right) to its record 1.5 million enrollees throughout the month of November, and provide them to all new consumers who sign up during the open-enrollment period.
All consumers will be asked to wear the masks to prevent the spread of the virus, while spreading the word about open enrollment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed what we’ve long known: affordable health care coverage can make the difference between health and illness, economic security and financial ruin, life and death,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Record-Low Rate Change and Increased Choices
Consumers who shop for coverage during open enrollment will benefit from Covered California’s record-low rate change of 0.5 percent for 2021.
Consumers both on and off the exchange also benefit from Covered California’s competitive marketplace, which allows them to shop for the best value. In addition, existing consumers can save more by shopping and switching to a lower-cost health plan. For unsubsidized consumers who shop and switch to the lowest-cost plan in the same metal tier, on average they would see a 7.4 percent decrease in their premium, which means many Californians can get a lower gross premium if they shop and switch.
Financial Help Lowers Costs for Consumers
In addition to the record-low rate change, roughly nine out of every 10 consumers who enroll through Covered California receive financial assistance — in the form of federal tax credits, state subsidies, or both — which helps make health care more affordable. California’s state subsidies, which first became available in 2020, are benefiting nearly 600,000 consumers — including more than 41,000 middle-income consumers who had previously been ineligible for financial help because they exceeded the federal income requirements.
The latest data shows that, with the combination of federal tax credits and state subsidies, the average consumer receiving financial help paid an average of $127 per month for their coverage (with federal and state assistance reducing their costs by $454 or nearly 80 percent).
The state subsidies are only available to eligible consumers through Covered California. The amount of financial help consumers receive will vary depending on their age, their annual household income and the cost of health care in their region.
Shop and Compare
Those interested in applying for coverage can explore their options — and find out whether they are eligible for financial help — in just a few minutes by using the Shop and Compare Tool at CoveredCA.com. All they need to do is enter their ZIP code, household income and the ages of those who need coverage to find out which plans are available in their area.
Covered California unveiled a new and improved CoveredCA.com website last month, which features a modern redesign, more-intuitive navigation, condensed and simplified language and enhancements in accessibility and mobile responsiveness.
Getting Help Enrolling
Consumers will need to sign up by Dec. 15 in order to have their coverage begin on Jan. 1, 2021. Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can:
· Visit http://www.CoveredCA.com.
· Get free and confidential in-person assistance, in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller.
· Have a certified enroller call them and help them for free.
· Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.
About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget.
Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits. Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.