The final sprint to get uninsured Californians health insurance went through several African American churches in Southern California Sunday, Jan. 13.
Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, the agency that administers the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) in the state, visited Cathedral of Praise Church in San Bernardino, First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME) in Los Angeles, and Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles to urge congregants and the community at large to sign up for health coverage.
Later, Covered California announced that consumers who began their enrollment application before midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 15 (the official deadline to sign up) will have until midnight Friday, Jan. 18 to complete the process. The move comes after a surge of interest that saw more than 15,000 consumers sign up and select health plans on Monday, Jan. 14.
“Covered California is still here for you, but you have to hurry,” Lee said Tuesday. “We know that thousands of people wait until the final day, and if that is you, Covered California will help you get across the finish line.”
Consumers who began their application before midnight onf Jan. 15 will have until midnight on Jan. 18 to complete the process with the help of a certified enroller such as a Certified Insurance Agent or service center representative, as well as community enrollment partners such as Certified Enrollment Counselors, Certified Application Counselors and Plan-Based Enrollers.
They also can visit Covered California's website and sign up to have a certified enroller call them. Most calls are returned within 30 minutes and it is free and confidential.
Those who finish their application by Jan. 18 will have their health care coverage start on Feb 1.
“Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the creation of Covered California, the rate of uninsured citizens has dropped from 17.2 to 6.8 percent. That’s historic,” said Bishop Craig Johnson of Cathedral of Praise Church. “Tens of thousands of our friends and family members have gotten the medical care they need and deserve as a result.”
Said Pastor J. Edgar Boyd of FAME: “As we approach the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., I am reminded of his declaration that, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.’ Opponents, though, continue to attack the ACA, but I say we cannot, and we will not go back to those sad days when so many people were uninsured.”
Lee of Covered California agrees.
“Our top priority is making sure consumers who are trying to sign up for health insurance get the time and assistance they need,” Lee said. “Life can change in an instant, and no one should be turned away just because they get caught up in a wave of last-minute shoppers.”
Since 2014, more than 3.5 million people have purchased health insurance through Covered California, and nearly 4 million have enrolled in the state’s Medi-Cal program.