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Open Enrollment Runs Through Sunday, Jan. 31
Open Enrollment Runs Through Sunday, Jan. 31
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California joined with Latino leaders on Tuesday to spread the word that time is running out for uninsured Californians to sign up for quality health care coverage.
“We are teaming up with leaders of Latino communities to make sure that we reach out to everyone who is eligible for coverage,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “We want to drive home the message that the Jan. 31 deadline is coming up and remind consumers that financial help is available through Covered California.”
Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, said uninsured Latinos across the state should explore their options in this new era of health care and get health coverage for 2016.
“The Affordable Care Act has cut California’s uninsured rate in half, and having access to health care is critical to building strong families and communities,” Hernandez said. “Covered California is opening the doors to the best doctors and hospitals in the state, while protecting consumers from the high cost of medical bills and prescription drugs.”
Tuesday’s outreach effort included a teleconference with Covered California, Hernandez, Carmen Rodriguez of the San Ysidro Health Center and Spanish-language media.
In addition, both Hernandez and Lee wanted to alert consumers to the increasing tax penalty if they choose to remain uninsured in 2016 and reassure them that their immigration status would not be shared with authorities.
“Any U.S. citizen or person who is lawfully present in California is eligible for health insurance through Covered California even if they have family members in their household who are undocumented,” Hernandez said. “All information you submit is used strictly to determine your eligibility for health insurance programs available under the Affordable Care Act and will not affect the immigration status of any family member on the application.”
Covered California developed an immigration status fact sheet for consumers. The fact sheet is online at the following links:
- English: www.CoveredCA.com/news/PDFs/immigration-fact-sheet-ca.pdf.
- Spanish: www.CoveredCA.com/news/PDFs/immigration-fact-sheet-sp.pdf.
While noncitizens and undocumented residents will not be eligible for Covered California health insurance plans, they may still be eligible for specific, limited Medi-Cal programs. Individual consumers and their families are encouraged to research their options through Covered California to see what health coverage is available to them.
As for the tax penalty, in some cases a consumer could actually save money by purchasing health insurance instead of paying the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“The tax penalty starts at $695 for an adult, or $2,085 for a family of four, and can easily be several hundred or even thousands of dollars more,” Lee said. “That’s money that goes straight to the IRS, and the consumer gets nothing in return. Don’t gamble with your health or your financial future.”
For more information on how the tax penalty is calculated, visit http://news.CoveredCA.com/2016/01/covered-california-estimates-hundreds.html or http://news.CoveredCA.com/p/covered-california-estima-que-miles-de.html.
Covered California has also built an extensive network of Spanish-language resources, including a full mirror website, at www.CoveredCA.com/es, and a dedicated hotline for Spanish-speaking consumers, at (800) 300-0213. Consumers can also find thousands of certified Spanish-speaking enrollers by visiting www.CoveredCA.com/get-help/local. The in-person assistance is free, confidential and available in communities throughout the state.
Consumers who apply may be eligible for financial assistance depending on their income and family size. Approximately nine out of every 10 enrollees receives some level of financial assistance to help pay for their health care, with the average Covered California household receiving $5,200 in financial assistance in 2014. Consumers can find out if they qualify by using the Shop and Compare Tool on Covered California’s website.
Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31. Consumers who qualify for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal can enroll at any time.
About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.
Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. F