Having health coverage is important to keep families healthy. It can help stop the unfortunate practice of foregoing medical care when it’s needed, paying high out-of-pocket expenses if an emergency occurs, or ignoring potentially serious medical conditions.
Covered California has serve 1.8 million consumers since 2013. In the Latino community, the percentage of uninsured has been reduced by half. The numbers are great, but health care coverage means much more than just numbers. It means that lives are being changed, and good health practices are being instilled in many of our communities, for our future generations.
So what can you do as a leader in the Latino community? You have a platform and following that allows you to educate and encourage people in the community to do what is best for themselves and their families, and at the same time, comply with what is now the law. Going to Covered California is a great first step. Covered California is the state health insurance marketplace where people can shop and compare a variety of health plans and select coverage that best fits health needs and budget. They can even find out if they qualify for financial help to reduce their monthly payments, or if they are eligible for Medi-Cal. There are numerous resources on the Covered CA website, including FAQs, Newsletter templates, Fact Sheets, and more. The information is available in various languages, including Spanish. You can also follow Covered California on social media. There are English and Spanish Facebook (www.facebook.com/CoveredCA; www.facebook.com/CoveredCAEspanol) and Twitter pages (www.twitter.com/CoveredCA; www.twitter.com/CoveredCA_es). This is a great way to keep people informed.
In addition, all personal information submitted to Covered California, including immigration status, is strictly confidential and is never shared.
Regardless of the plan people choose, they will have benefits that will take care of most of your healthcare needs, including free preventive services to stay ahead of big health risks, such as blood pressure and cholesterol screenings for adults, mammograms and cervical cancer screening for women, and common vaccinations for children.
The next open enrollment period will be from November through January 2016. However, special enrollment is available year-round for one of the following qualifying life events:
- Losing health coverage.
- Income changes.
- Turning 26 years old.
- Change in place of residency. This includes moving to California from another state.
- Having a child or adopting a child, receiving a child into foster care, or placing a child in adoption or in a foster home.
- Getting married or entering into a domestic partnership.
- Becoming citizens, national or lawfully present individuals.
Individuals should be aware that these life-changing events allow them to shop and enroll into a health plan outside of the open enrollment period and obtain the coverage they need.
It is now the law to get healthcare coverage, and the penalty of remaining uninsured is increasing. The penalty rises substantially for 2016, however, the biggest penalty for individuals could be not having a health coverage that can benefit their health and their lives.