In the world of sports, the “2 minute warning” is synonymous with greatness. Legends are born in the moments when victory hangs in the balance, and the distinction between a champion and a runner-up comes down to a matter of inches. This past Sunday, sports fans everywhere witnessed one of the most exhilarating Super Bowl finishes. In the closing minutes, both teams came up with the biggest plays on the brightest stage, but in the end, an errant blunder ultimately determined the victor (Darn you, Malcolm Butler!!!). However, for millions of people, a very similar scenario awaits, but with much higher stakes.
From now until February 15, in these final two weeks of Covered California open enrollment, Californians will have the opportunity to sign up for one of the most coveted resources that can literally mean the difference between life and death: health coverage. These next two weeks equal the 2 minute warning for health care enrollment in California, and we must not let this chance slip away.
Missing this deadline will have consequences – and they will only become more severe. This year, for those who can afford insurance but choose not to purchase, there will be fine of $325/person, or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater. Aside from the obvious benefits of having health care, avoiding these fees should make this decision even clearer.
For years, Greenlining has pushed Covered California to address the barriers preventing underserved communities, particularly communities of color, from accessing health care. There have been many lessons learned, and we have made significant progress. Thanks to our collective efforts, we’ve cut the rate of uninsured Californians in half, allowing millions of families to live thriving lives without having to worry about financial ruin from injury, illness, or crushing debt due to medical costs.
Yes, there are still unquestionable gaps in coverage for the ACA, but what we cannot dispute is the good that health care will do for those who now live without it. Until every Californian has access to quality, affordable health coverage, we must continue to push for more.
(Seahawks fans, avert your eyes now!)
As millions of viewers saw, it’s not enough to be at the doorstep of success. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson learned in heartbreaking fashion that a costly mistake can dash your chances at victory, even as you stand a few yards away from the end zone. As a state, and as advocates for underserved communities, we mustn’t allow ourselves to become complacent with the success of the past, and thus make careless mistakes. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Pete Carroll.)
As Super Bowl festivities come to an end, we must be mindful that the struggle to access to health care is not a game. The lives of millions of people will depend on these final two weeks. Let’s finish strong.