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Holden Plea: 'Get Covered, Enroll in Health Care Today

No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point in their lives. Health insurance, which is available to everyone today, covers these unexpected costs and offers many other important benefits that are vital to overall long term health.

Despite what you may have heard happening in other states or on the national level, Covered California’s open-enrollment period starts on Nov. 1, 2017 and continues through Jan. 31, 2018. If you, your family members, or friends need health insurance, this is the time to sign up.

In California – unlike other states – legislators, advocates, and non-profits have done everything possible to make sure the Affordable Care Act works for folks who would be burdened the most with expensive medical costs. We expanded Medicaid, we set up a well-functioning health care exchange, and we pushed for more outreach and enrollment assistance into the communities that need it the most, including the African-American community.

Since passage of the Affordable Care Act and the creation of Covered California the number of Californians signing up for health insurance has significantly increased – with most receiving financial help. Unfortunately many friends and family in our community are currently uninsured, remaining unprotected against any unforeseen medical emergencies and lacking any attention to their long term health.

Data from Covered California shows that enrollment among subsidy-eligible African-Americans during open enrollment is consistently at 4 percent, while African-Americans constitute five percent of the state’s subsidy-eligible population

The good news is that getting covered – and receiving financial assistance to cover the premiums – is easier than ever. In fact, 90 percent of Covered California enrollees receive federal subsidies to help cover their premiums. Covered California is the only place where eligible consumers can get financial assistance to help pay for their health insurance.

Financial help means that in 2018, nearly 60 percent of subsidy-eligible enrollees will have access to Silver coverage for less than $100 per month — the same as it was in 2017 — and 74 percent can purchase Bronze coverage for less than $10 per month.

Thankfully we are already seeing the positive impact of Covered California in improving the overall health of Californians. Californian’s enrollment numbers continue to increase, making it a national leader. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as a result of coverage expansions through both Covered California and Medi-Cal, California’s uninsured rate is down to 7.4 percent. That’s a big drop from 17.2 percent in 2013 and makes our rate of uninsured the lowest in state history.

If you, your family members or friends need health coverage, they can get free, confidential assistance from one of the more than 20,000 certified agents and enrollers throughout California who are ready to help them enroll. You can find confidential in-person help from a Certified Insurance Agent, Certified Enrollment Counselor or a county eligibility worker at You can also sign up by calling Covered California’s Service Center at (800) 300-1506, applying online at, or have a certified enroller contact them through the “Help on Demand” feature.

Assemblymember Chris Holden represents the 41st Assembly District that stretches from Pasadena in the West to Upland in the East and includes the communities of Altadena, Claremont, La Verne, Monrovia, Rancho Cucamonga, San Dimas, Sierra Madre, and South Pasadena. He also serves as chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus and Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy.

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