By Edward Henderson, California Black Media
The open enrollment period for Californians to secure health insurance plans ends this week on Jan. 31,
Depending on your situation, there are multiple options to explore when searching for a plan that is best for you through Covered California.
Covered California is the state’s health exchange marketplace created to get Californians quality health insurance through brand name plans like Kaiser Permanente, BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna and many others.
One option is to buy a plan through Covered California. If you qualify for a tax credit to help offset your premiums, you may want to buy a plan through the marketplace. Qualifying usually depends on your income and household size. Your total household income must be between 128% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
Another option is to renew or change your current plan. During the open enrollment period, you can renew your existing plan. You won’t have to do anything if you want to keep what you have. But if your current plan is changing — for instance, your Primary Care Physician (PCP) is leaving the network, or your drugs aren’t in the list of covered medications — then you may want to switch to a plan that best suits your current needs. If you need to change policies, the open enrollment period is the best time.
You can also enroll in Medi-Cal. If your income is below 128% of the FPL, you qualify for Medi-Cal, which is Medicaid for Californians.
“The pandemic took a toll on us in so many ways, including our behavioral and mental health, which are critical to our ability to live happy, healthy and productive lives,” said Jessica Altman, executive director of Covered California. “Getting the right behavioral health care starts with making sure people have health insurance with access to quality providers, and that can be done right now through Covered California’s open enrollment.”
Cameron Nelson is an artist and painter living in San Diego who plans to enroll with Covered California.
“As an independent artist I am the one responsible for finding healthcare since I don’t have a traditional job where it’s provided for me. Many of my friends who make a living off their art don’t have plans because they think it is too expensive to cover on their own. I’ve found the options the state provides to be helpful in my situation and I hope that my example can encourage other sole proprietors to do the same.”
The only other way to buy an insurance plan outside of open enrollment is to qualify for special enrollment. This timeframe is called the Special Enrollment Period (SEP). This exception allows you to apply for health insurance if you’ve had certain qualifying life events, such as losing your job, moving to a new state, getting married or divorced, becoming a widow or widower, aging off your parent’s plan or having a new baby.
You won’t be eligible for special enrollment if you lost your previous health plan because you failed to pay your monthly premiums or if you voluntarily cancelled the coverage.
Visit Health for California to get more information on plans that work best for you before the deadline arrives.