Today marks the beginning of Covered California’s open enrollment. With hundreds of millions of dollars in new financial assistance now available for Californians, it caps off a landmark year for health reform in California.
Despite the best efforts of the Trump Administration to sabotage our health care, California has taken bold action not just to protect consumers but to make a marked difference in their lives with greater access and affordability. Health care and coverage isn’t cheap, and there’s much more to do—but these are big and important steps that provide real relief for Californians.
As Californians shop and compare plans, many will see lower premiums due to the investments made in the California state budget earlier this year, with hundreds of thousands receiving financial assistance who were previously ineligible. This effort joins other expansions in Medi-Cal, including the first-in-the-nation expansion to all income-eligible young adults up through age 26, regardless of immigration status. Together, hundreds of thousands of Californians are expected to be newly covered, and over a million more Californians will now have new help to get more affordable care. These investments, along with new laws to give people more time to sign up for coverage (AB 1309, Bauer-Kahan), help people stay covered (SB 260, Hurtado), and stop seniors from losing free Medi-Cal (AB 1088, Wood), will make our health care system stronger than ever.
In addition to these coverage expansions, Governor Newsom signed into law more consumer protections, including bills to help lower prescription drug costs (AB 824, Wood), lower premiums by preventing unreasonable rate increases (AB 731, Kalra), requiring greater transparency and accountability from health plans to improve health outcomes (AB 929, L. Rivas), ensuring equal oversight over all health plans, including Kaiser (SB 343, Pan), and improving data collection to lower maternal mortality rates for black women (SB 464, Mitchell).
These reforms were supported by a campaign of over 70 health, consumer, community, business, labor, senior, women’s, children’s and other groups as part of the #Care4AllCA coalition, which aims to create a more affordable, accessible, and universal health care system in California.
If you have been struggling with the cost of care, or have been uninsured, now is the time to take another look at the assistance available, for people of lower and higher incomes. Many more options are available to you that will help yourself and your family find quality, affordable coverage.
For more details on affordability assistance in the 2019-2020 state budget, see this Health Access fact sheet.