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Impact of COVID-19 on African Americans Highlights the Need for Health Coverage This Holiday Season

With COVID-19 raging across the country, African Americans — disproportionately infected with the virus – are being urged to enroll in health insurance through California’s Obamacare exchange, Covered California.

While tens of thousands of African Americans have benefited from insurance through Covered California at one time or another since 2013, nearly 65,000 uninsured Africans Americans in the state are eligible for financial help through Covered California or Medi-Cal.

“In the midst of this global health crisis and resulting economic recession, we want everyone to be insured, regardless of their race or economic status, and no matter what situation they find themselves in,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said.

Covered California recently launched its open enrollment period, which lasts through Jan. 31, and is encouraging all eligible residents to “Get Covered” and “Stay Covered,” Lee said. “During this holiday season, what better way to show a loved one you than by giving the gift of health,” Lee said.

Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to a report in the Washington Post, African Americans were 37 percent more likely to die than Whites from COVID-19, after controlling for age, sex and mortality rates over time.

“Health insurance can have a lasting impact,” Lee said. “From day one Covered California has worked hard to connect with the state’s diverse communities. We believe that part of addressing the disparities exposed by the pandemic is by effectively reaching out to enroll all Californians.”

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Open enrollment is the one-time of the year when anyone eligible can sign up for health care coverage for 2021. Covered California consumers can check their options and see if they qualify for financial help by using the Shop & Compare tool on the revamped

Eligible consumers who sign up through Covered California can qualify for financial help from the federal government, the state of California, or both. Consumers can visit and find out if they are eligible for either lower cost private plans through Covered California or free coverage through Medi-Cal (which is open year-round). Right now, a record 1.5 million Californians are enrolled in Covered California and are in the process of renewing their coverage, with nearly 90 percent receiving some level of financial assistance.

“Affordability is the number one issue for consumers, and the financial help available through Covered California helps bring the cost of coverage within reach,” Lee said.

In 2021, nearly all Californians (99.8 percent) will be able to choose from two or more carriers and over three-quarter of Californians (77 percent) will have four or more choices.

Consumers will need to sign up by Dec. 15 in order to have their coverage begin on Jan. 1, 2021. Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can:

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