Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti joined state health officials Nov. 9 to kick off the Covered California health insurance open enrollment period, noting that 1.2 million people in the state are currently uninsured amid the COVID-19 pandemic, despite being eligible for financial help through either Covered California or Medi-Cal.
“This has been a year full of a lot of pain and stress,” Garcetti said. “These sorts of conversations help people realize that this [health care coverage] isn’t out of their reach. In fact, it makes us all healthier, makes us all stronger.”
The open enrollment period began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 31, but people must be registered by Dec. 15 for their health insurance to take effect on Jan. 1.
“Those who are hospitalized because of COVID, and do not have health insurance and the special cost-sharing protections that have been put in place for COVID, could walk out with a very large bill,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly secretary of the state’s Health and Human Services Agency and Covered California board chair.
Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, helps people 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.
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
As part of the open enrollment kick-off, Covered California is mailing masks this month to its enrollees and those who sign up during the open enrollment period.
“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.”
The kick-off event and mask campaign were announced a day before the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could undo the Affordable Care Act. The effects that would have on Covered California are not yet known.
A ruling from the court isn’t expected for another six to eight months, Covered California officials said, and people will still be assessed for health insurance when they sign up for the 2021 plans.
Covered California officials said that as of today, a record 1.5 million residents are enrolled in Covered California and are in the process of renewing their coverage, with almost 90% receiving some level of financial assistance.
According to the Covered California website, the premium charges for health insurance plans should not change significantly compared to last year because the enrollment is high enough to maintain them.
People can enroll, change their plans and find out more information about Covered California at coveredca.com.