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Peter’s Blog: The Sprint to the Finish

Across California, we hit the ground running when open enrollment began in November. Now it’s a sprint to the finish. Open enrollment ends in less than two weeks, on Sunday, Feb. 15. Covered California and our tens of thousands of partners are working hard to make sure that as many people as possible get the protection and peace of mind that they deserve.

We have embarked on a statewide media tour to carry our message to every corner of the state. Covered California has already been to Redding, Chico, Salinas and Monterey.

On Friday, I stood with supporters from the state Capitol (Senator Mark Leno, Assemblymember Phil Ting and Assemblymember David Chiu, above) at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco, promoted enrollment at the North East Medical Services, and applauded efforts in the South Bay at the Foothill Community Health Center in San Jose (with Senator Jim Beall and Assemblymember Nora Campos, shown with her son above) to spread the word about why open enrollment is so important to so many.

On Saturday, I “walked the walk” of sprinting to the finish, joining a 5K that was part of AltaMed’s health promotion and enrollment effort. Later in the day, I joined the California Black Legislative Caucus, which sponsored a health, wellness and enrollment event at the California African American Museum with the caucus chair, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer.

In the coming weeks, Covered California will continue to travel across the state. More importantly, there are hundreds of local enrollment events and storefronts, along with thousands of Certified Insurance Agents, Certified Enrollment Counselors and county eligibility workers in every community in this state working to enroll Californians.

So far, more than 273,000 people have joined the nearly 1 million Covered California customers who enrolled in 2014. You know that if someone who is uninsured thinks they can sit on the sidelines and get covered in March or April, they could be very wrong.

If they are not eligible for Medi-Cal or don’t have a life-changing event, like losing their employer-sponsored coverage or having a baby, then they will have to wait until open enrollment returns in the fall.

Not only are we spreading the word about open enrollment coming to an end; we’re also reminding people that they could be eligible for financial assistance to help them pay for their health care coverage.

Nearly nine out of every 10 of our enrollees received some level of financial help in 2014. The estimated average amount received for a year’s coverage was more than $5,200 per household. That’s a real savings that is bringing health care within reach and changing lives.

As I travel the state, I’ve had a chance to meet some of our enrollees. Some are not only brave enough to share their story; they’ve also gone on camera to do their part to make sure that no Californian is left behind.

You can see some of their stories at this link: It’s a video that tells the stories of five Californians whose lives have been transformed by gaining affordable, quality health care coverage through Covered California.

Stories like these remind me why our work is so important. As we get ready for the sprint to the finish, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch these videos. Without you, these stories would not be possible, and we would not be changing the lives of so many.

As we learned during our first open-enrollment period, many people will undoubtedly wait until the end of open enrollment to begin the application process. That means we’ll be even busier. It means we’ll be taking more calls, having more conversations and setting more appointments to help these Californians cross the finish line and get covered. We’ve done this before, and I know we can do it again.

Working together, we can continue to change lives — and continue to make history.