News Release

Date Posted

Covered California’s Executive Director: Open Enrollment Kicks Off in California

Peter kicks off a Blog that he will regularly update

Executive Director, Peter V. Lee
Covered California opened for business on October 1st, and together with health care marketplaces across the nation launched because of the Affordable Care Act, we ushered in a new era in U.S. history. Think about it, for the first time in our country’s history health care is no longer a privilege, but a right extended to all Americans. That’s an incredible thing to be able to say; it’s an incredible thing to be part of; and it is great that California is taking such a leadership role.

The response to Covered California has been nothing short of phenomenal. When a reporter asked me in September how many people I expected to enroll on the first day, I jokingly answered “two.” Turns out I was off by a little bit.

We had more than 94,000 applications started during our first two weeks. More than 1.5 million people logged on to to learn more about opportunities that had never been available to them before, and our Service Centers received more than 104,000 phone calls from interested consumers. That’s undeniable proof of the pent-up demand among Californians for quality, affordable health care. It’s proof that Californians want peace of mind, and want to be a part of history.

While we’re big on numbers, the story is about so much more.

Behind each of those numbers is a person whose life is being changed. People like Aura Lee Sanchez of Sacramento, who has been uninsured for nine months. She had been denied coverage because she has a pre-existing condition. Health care reform has changed that: she will be getting coverage for $550 per month. Although her income means she won’t be receiving premium assistance, she would never have been able to get health insurance if it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act and Covered California.

People like Paul Torrigino, also of Sacramento, who had trouble finding affordable health insurance when he was laid off. Living off a fixed pension he’s been going without health insurance – and being very worried. Thanks to Covered California, Paul purchased a “Bronze Plan” that given the federal premium assistance he will get will cost him $1 a month.

And, it’s about small business owners, like Travis Sanchez who owns and runs a chiropractic clinic in Salinas. With his partners, Dr. Sanchez is excited about the chance to offer his employees coverage through Covered California’s program for small business, while lowering his personal costs based on buying coverage on the individual market. Beyond his interest in covering his business through the SHOP program, Dr. Sanchez is excited about what the Affordable Care Act means for the community he serves – primarily field workers and packing plant employees – the vast majority of whom are lower income and Latino – he told us: “Many of my customers are uninsured or under insured and the ACA and Covered California will provide many of my clients access to affordable insurance.”

Stories like these prove Covered California is changing lives, and this is only the beginning. Open enrollment continues until the end of March of 2014, and many more inspiring stories are still to come.

There is still a lot to be done, but for the largest overhaul of the health care system since Medicare in 1965, we are proud of where we are – standing on the right side of history; and proud be to part of the broad community of Californians who are joining us on this journey.