Holy Crap. Sometimes I forget just how many people live in California.

Covered California Launches New Campaign Focused on College Graduates to Make Sure They Get Health Coverage

  • Commencement speakers will remind thousands of new graduates that “life can change in an instant” – making it important for them to have health coverage, so they can get the health care they need as they set out in life.
  • A new video distributed on social platforms will remind graduates who may be losing their health coverage to check out Covered California for affordable options.
  • Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee congratulates graduates and reminds them to protect their futures by getting health insurance.
  • Covered California provided more than 70 campus health centers with materials to educate graduating students about new health insurance options available through Covered California
  • The “special enrollment” campaign for graduates is launching amid new data showing California’s uninsured rate is at an all-time low.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Graduation season is in full bloom and Covered California is joining with commencement speakers throughout the state to remind the over 400,000 graduates and their families not to forget about the importance of health insurance during this busy time of year.

Holy smokes. Let me repeat that: Over 400,000 people are graduating from college in California this spring. For comparison, that's 70% of Wyoming's entire population.

“Congratulations graduates for everything you have achieved,” said Peter V. Lee, Executive Director of Covered California. “As you prepare to move on to the next stage of your life, be sure to protect the one thing essential to pursuing your dreams — your health. We want to remind everyone that if you’re losing your coverage after graduation you could qualify for special enrollment through Covered California.”

Californians may enroll during Covered California’s special-enrollment period if they have a qualifying life event, like losing their coverage. For example, students who had their health care needs provided by their school and are losing that coverage upon graduation, or who will lose coverage through their parents’ plan when they turn 26, are eligible to sign up for a new plan through Covered California.

There are currently more than 250,000 Californians between the ages of 19 and 29 enrolled in a plan through Covered California, and they are receiving affordable, name-brand insurance coverage.

Covered California is being joined by commencement speakers from across the state who are weaving the importance of getting and keeping coverage into their remarks. Among those who have agreed to participate are commencement speakers at California State University - Los Angeles, the University of California at Irvine and the University of California at Merced have agreed to carry the message to graduates in their speeches.

“Taking care of their health gives graduates the freedom to pursue their dreams, so we want to make sure they are covered,” said Cástulo de la Rocha, President and CEO of AltaMed Health Services, who delivered commencement speeches at Cal State Los Angeles. “These graduates may be working at a start-up or small business, or going into business for themselves, and regardless of which path they take, they will need health insurance. Whether they qualify for Medi-Cal or a subsidized insurance plan, Covered California can help them get into the plan that’s right for them.”

Mr. de la Rocha was joined by another commencement speaker, Dr. Kenneth Kizer – who is the Director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at the University of California, Davis and the former director California’s Department of Health Services – to co-author an op-ed which has been sent to 96 college newspapers throughout the state (read the Op-Ed here).

In addition, Covered California is collaborating with colleges and universities to promote the value of health insurance, sending more than 70 campus health centers educational materials to help inform students about their health care options. Covered California is also promoting special enrollment through its social media channels and a direct email campaign (see example social media image to the left).

At a recent graduation ceremony for California State University, Sacramento, Covered California spoke with graduates about their health care plans.

“We asked them a simple question: What are your plans for health insurance once you graduate?” Lee said. “Graduates knew they needed insurance, but many did not know where to turn. We want to make sure every graduating Californian knows about their options, including Covered California.”

Click here to see Lee’s congratulatory message for graduates.

Click here to see a video of recent graduates talking about health care coverage.

This outreach campaign comes on the heels of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows California finished 2017 with a record-low uninsured rate of 6.8 percent, down from 7.2 percent at the end of 2016. California’s good work at lowering the rate of uninsured is happening when the national rate of uninsured is showing an increase. The state uninsured rate stood at 17 percent in 2013, the year before the exchange began offering coverage through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (see the complete report here)

“Covered California is proud to be part of the effort to help millions of Californians get the coverage and care they need,” said Lee. “We will continue to invest in reaching out to every corner of the state to make sure Californians know about their health care options and the financial help available through Covered California.”

During the recently completed open-enrollment period, 85 percent of Covered California enrollees received some level of financial help. Nearly 60 percent of subsidy-eligible enrollees have access to Silver coverage for less than $100 per month, and 74 percent can purchase Bronze coverage for less than $10 per month.

Special enrollment for health insurance through Covered California continues until Oct. 15, when open enrollment begins. At that time, individuals can get financial help to buy health insurance without a qualifying condition.

More information on special-enrollment rules.

Applicants have 60 days from the date on which the qualifying life event happens to enroll in a plan through Covered California.

Those who qualify for Medi-Cal may enroll through Covered California year round. Eligible consumers who are interested in signing up should go to www.CoveredCA.com where they can get help to enroll. They can explore their options and find out if they qualify for financial help by using the Shop and Compare Tool. They can also get free and confidential enrollment assistance by searching among 800 storefronts statewide, or more than 17,000 certified enrollers who can assist consumers in understanding their choices and enrolling, including individuals who can assist in other languages. In addition, consumers can reach the Covered California service center by calling (800) 300-1506.