Observer Group Newspapers of Southern California Inc.

Via Covered California News

Covered California is reaching out to African Americans and other people of color in the state who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 virus, to urge them to enroll in health coverage through its special-enrollment period underway now through May 15 for anyone who doesn’t have health insurance.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to endanger the lives of Californians across the state. The most recent data shows more than 3.4 million people have been infected in the state, and the death toll has surpassed 47,000. African Americans, Latinos, Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders represent the majority of those in California who are infected, hospitalized and die from the COVID-19 virus.

“Taking care of your health has never more important than it is right now, and we want everyone to know – particularly in our diverse communities of color – that if you do not have health insurance, the time is now to check out Covered California and see if you are eligible for financial help to lower the cost of your coverage,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “You do not want to be uninsured right now and anyone who needs coverage – and is eligible to sign up through Covered California – can do so immediately.”

Covered California set up this new special-enrollment period which allows anyone, who is uninsured and eligible to enroll in health care coverage, to sign up for health care coverage through May 15. The move comes following President Joe Biden’s recent executive order strengthening provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and opening health plan enrollment on the federal health care exchanges from Feb. 15 through May 15 — as COVID-19 continues to surge throughout the U.S.

“Every Covered California plan is comprehensive, covering everything from preventive care to mental health,” Lee said. “It’s safe, it’s secure, and in just minutes you can find out if you are eligible for financial help and the options available in your area.”

An estimated 2.7 million Californians still don’t have health insurance, including 1.2 million people who are eligible for financial help through Covered California to greatly reduce their monthly health care costs, or qualify for no-cost or low-cost Medi-Cal plans. The largest portion of these uninsured who are eligible for financial help through Covered California are in Southern California, with an estimated 718,000 people living in the Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Orange and San Diego metro areas.

“The biggest hurdle to health insurance remains affordability, but most people who are uninsured do not know they are eligible for financial assistance, which is why everyone should just take a few minutes to check out their options,” Lee said. “In just a few minutes you can see what your options are and find out if you qualify for financial assistance that helps bring the cost of coverage within reach.”

Consumers can safely and easily find out if they are eligible for financial help through Covered California or qualify for Medi-Cal, and see which health plans are available in their area by using the CoveredCA.Com Shop and Compare Tool. All they need to do is enter their ZIP code, household income and the ages of those who need coverage and they will see the health plan options available in their area.

Covered California also continues to support COVID-19 safety precautions — including wearing a mask, washing your hands and watching your distance — as well as contact-free health care enrollment online or over the phone by one of thousands of Covered California’s certified enrollers across the state.

Those interested in learning more about their health coverage options can also: · Visit www.CoveredCA.com.

· Get free and confidential assistance over the phone, 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.

Another important reason to sign up for Covered California health plans or Medi-Cal plans is that it’s still the law for Californians to have health insurance in 2021 — or pay a costly penalty at tax time. Consumers who can afford health care coverage, but choose to go without, could pay a penalty when filing their state income taxes. The penalty is administered by California’s Franchise Tax Board and could be as much as $2,250 for a family of four or $750 for an individual.