Covered California

SAN FRANCISCO: With its 10th open-enrollment period underway, Covered California hosted Asian-American health leaders at Asian Inc. in San Francisco last week, to encourage the uninsured in the Bay Area to sign up for health coverageunder the Affordable Care Act.

According to the California Health Interview Survey, the uninsured rate among all Asian groups in California was 7.0 percent in 2021, but there were differences among ethnic groups and higher uninsured rates for newer immigrants.

“Covered California is proud of all the work that has been done over the past decade to provide health care access to every ethnic group and community in the state,” Covered California Executive Director Jessica Altman said. “The tireless work done by our Navigator partners, agents and health plans has paid dividends in Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities throughout California.”

Since Covered California’s first open-enrollment period in 2013, 5.2 million Californians have received health insurance through Covered California for at least one month. Covered California has seen its overall enrollment grow by more than 40 percent, exemplified by a nearly 45 percent increase among those identifying as Asian.

There has been enrollment growth in large AGAPE communities, such as Asian Indian (nearly 90 percent), Chinese (nearly 77 percent) and Filipino (47 percent) and smaller ones, such as Cambodian (642 percent) and Laotian (1,300 percent).

“Navigating America’s health care system can be a complicated journey — particularly for newer immigrants,” said Dr. Ninez Ponce, who is the principal investigator for the California Health Interview Survey and heads the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “But the Affordable Care Act and Covered California have made that process manageable with free, in-language assistance and a single application that can determine if you qualify for the exchange or for Medi-Cal.”

The data shows that while the uninsured rate is lower than the state average in some AAPI communities such as Chinese (5.9 percent), Vietnamese (6.4 percent) and Filipino (6.5 percent), it is significantly higher in the Korean community (15 percent) and among new immigrants (five years or fewer in the U.S.) at 11.6 percent for all ethnicities and those with limited English proficiency (17.8 percent).

“We are using this data to understand the variations across communities, and important conversations like the one we are having today will help inform Covered California’s future efforts,” Altman said. “The goal is to make sure everyone eligible for health coverage in California gets covered, so if recent immigrants or those who lack English proficiency have higher uninsured rates, we will work to close that gap.”

Consumers can also discover their options by visiting, where they can easily find out if they qualify for financial help and see the coverage options in their area.

All they need to do is enter their household income, ZIP code, household size and the number of people who need coverage and their ages into the calculator on Covered California’s homepage. Covered California has over 11,000 licensed agents, and enrollers are here to help you sign up in whatever language or dialect you need.

Open enrollment began on Nov. 1 and ends on Jan. 31. It is the one time of the year when eligible people cannot be turned away from coverage.

Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can also:

  • Get free and confidential assistance over the phone, in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller.
  • Have a certified enroller call them and help them for free.
  • Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

Family Glitch

A new federal rule took effect recently, opening the door for 400,000 people to enroll in a more-affordable health plan through Covered California, including many immigrant families. The change means families who have been ineligible for financial help through Covered California because one member is insured through an employer may now be eligible for subsidies to lower the cost of their premiums.

“The door to more-affordable health insurance is opening today for hundreds of thousands of Californians,” Altman said. “Families across California will now be able to save hundreds of dollars a month, and thousands of dollars a year, if they switch from employer-sponsored coverage to a Covered California plan.”