Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by BVN
Breanna Reeves |
Open enrollment for Covered California, the state’s free online service to find affordable health insurance, is set to end on Jan. 31.
Established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the first enrollment period for Covered California began on Oct. 1, 2013. According to a Covered California report, from Oct. 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, 1.4 million residents enrolled for health insurance through Covered California.
Covered California allows residents across the state to sign up for free or low-cost health insurance plans through Medi-Cal or get support paying for private health insurance plans. Individuals and families are eligible for Covered California if they are residents and cannot access affordable health insurance through employment.
Qualifications for Covered California are based on income and household size. To qualify, the total household income must be between 128% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). If a resident’s income is below 128% on the FPL, they qualify for Medi-Cal.
This year marks Covered California’s 10th year of open enrollment. As the deadline approaches, the online health insurance marketplace reported that “a record high 1.7 million Californians have already signed up for comprehensive coverage through Covered California.”
Changing lives for Black Californians
“We know that this is changing lives, helping Californians get covered and stay covered. I want to highlight specifically the impact that that has had on enrollment within our African American community in California. So, as of June, we had more than 35,000 people who enrolled, who self-identified as African American,” said Jessica Altman, newly appointed executive director of Covered California, during a media briefing.
Altman explained that the significance of the enrollment numbers for the Black community across the state is noteworthy because it marks a 46% increase since the end of Covered California’s first open enrollment period.
According to a recent California Health Care Foundation state-wide survey conducted by EVITARUS called “Listening to Black Californians,” nine in ten Black Californians (90%) responded that they currently have health insurance coverage.
While most Black Californians have health insurance, the survey of more than 3,300 Black respondents found that “more than one in four Black Californians avoid care due to concerns that they will be treated unfairly or with disrespect…Black Californians who identify as LGBTQIA+ (41%) and those who are enrolled in Medi-Cal (35%) report having avoided care.”
“I think the other thing that you all would certainly understand with African American communities, in general, is a lack of trust in health care as we see disparities, as we see inequitable treatment across our system,” Altman explained during a media briefing for African American media. “And there’s a broader need to build trust and to demonstrate that that trust should be there, that we all have to be collectively working on as a healthcare system.”
Covered California offers health insurance through 13 health and five dental insurance companies including Molina Healthcare, Health Net, Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross.
Open enrollment began last November and will close on Jan. 31. Coverage will begin on Feb. 1 for those who meet the deadline. For those who miss the open enrollment deadline, there is a time period called the Special Enrollment where residents who experienced life-changing events are eligible to sign up for insurance.