Get Covered, Californians
Comprehensive health coverage, and the peace of mind it brings, is fundamental. When the Affordable Care Act was enacted, California chose to develop and operate its own state exchange – Covered California – to ensure that as many Californians as possible could have access to affordable healthcare.
Covered California’s mission was simple – to reduce the number of uninsured Californians, improve the quality of care, lower costs and reduce health disparities through a competitive marketplace that empowers consumers to choose the plan that is of best value to them.
Since its launching, Covered California has accomplished a great deal. The percentage of Californians who go uninsured has fallen from 17% in 2013 to 6.8% as of last year and, for the first time, Californians with preexisting conditions do not need to fear being denied insurance on the individual market.
Overall, the reform has succeeded in extending coverage to millions and helping to constrain costs. Although health care costs continue to rise, they are rising more slowly, or at least they were, until the present uncertainty the President and the GOP in Congress have created over the program’s future. Thankfully, Covered California has taken steps to protect consumers from the worst impacts of this uncertainty.
It is certainly true that the reform has not affected everyone the same way – my rates, as a man in his 50s, married and with two kids – went up considerably, while the rates of my young staff went down just as appreciably.
Although additional steps will be needed to control costs in the future, our state exchange is stable and Californians will continue to have access to a range of good healthcare options.
If you’re one of the millions of Californians who doesn’t obtain coverage through your employer, Medi-Cal, or Medicare, Covered California offers a competitive range of plans from 11 different health insurance carriers. Whether you want to renew your current policy or sign up for a new health plan, Covered California empowers consumers to compare plans and find the one that best serves the needs of you and your family.
To enroll, visit CoveredCA.com where you will be asked a series of questions to determine whether you qualify for financial aid or Medi-Cal coverage. Last year, 80% of Americans who purchased health insurance on the state exchanges qualified for financial assistance in the form of tax credits, and those tax credits are still available. Additionally, roughly 1.2 million Californians qualified for subsidies to help pay for their coverage, leading to an out-of-pocket cost that averages just $125 a month.
Open enrollment has already started and lasts until Jan. 15. If you need coverage but aren’t sure how to sign up, you can visit www.coveredca.com/gethelp/ or call (800) 300-1506 to speak with a representative who can answer your questions. For healthcare starting on Jan. 1, make sure you enroll by Dec. 15 to prevent any lapse in coverage.
The Affordable Care Act is still a work in progress – changing the way our nation delivers healthcare is a massive undertaking – but we can build on the success of the program to protect people with preexisting conditions, to expand access and to bring down costs. I’m committed to strengthening our healthcare system and achieving universal access because no one should worry about whether they can afford to get care if they or a family member is sick, or worry that they are just one illness away from financial ruin. Don’t miss out on your chance to get the care you and your family need, and let’s continue to work to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) represents California’s 28th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.