Healthcare costs loom over state- Covered California offers solution

Illustration+by+Kai+Zheng+and+Lucy+Marx

Illustration by Kai Zheng and Lucy Marx

Trevor West Morgan, Staff Writer

As the coronavirus pandemic forces Californians to shelter in place and the number of confirmed cases rises, the issue of healthcare costs looms over millions of uninsured citizens. 

As an attempt to offer health care to more people, Covered California, a health insurance subsidy program, announced an extension of its open enrollment Friday morning in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This could potentially offer coverage to nearly 3 million uninsured Californians.

Covered California is a program that subsidizes health insurance to its consumers, making it affordable to those who otherwise could not pay for it. 

The announcement states that open enrollment is effective immediately in order to provide health coverage to anyone who is “uninsured and eligible”. In addition to this, Covered California is offering financial assistance to anyone who has lost income due to COVID-19. 

“We want to get as many people covered as possible to ensure they have access to the health care they need,” said Peter V. Lee, Executive Director of Covered California, in a statement released March 20. “Having more people insured is the right thing to do, and this action builds on our efforts to leave no one behind in California.”

State subsidies to Covered California have already assisted 625,000 middle and low-income Californians in paying for healthcare, with new subsidies allowing another 280,000 to be found eligible for financial assistance.

The state of California has put a hold on its renewal review process for Medi-Cal, state-funded public health insurance that offers coverage at little to no cost. This guarantees anyone who is currently enrolled through Medi-Cal will have coverage for at least 90 days, regardless of their policy’s expiration. 

“We are working together to protect the health and safety of Californians during this pandemic,” said DMHC Director Shelley Rouillard. “This includes making sure that Californians are able to access health care coverage. Opening a special-enrollment period due to COVID-19 offers new coverage options to Californians when they need it most.”