Yesterday, as I called to wish my mom a happy birthday, I couldn’t help but reminisce on the role my mother and countless other women have played in my own development. Everything I am, I owe to women: my mom, my aunts, my cousins, my friends. Women are such an integral part of my life, and an integral part of American society. That’s why I’m so passionate about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Thanks to the ACA, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. That’s exciting, considering women comprise the majority of the U.S. population. Health insurance companies can no longer charge women more than men simply because of their gender. Things like birth control, domestic violence counseling, and maternity coverage must now be included in all health plans.
This is all great news, but it only benefits women who enroll in health coverage. And, unfortunately, the deadline to enroll is quickly approaching. The first open enrollment period ends March 31st; that’s less than two weeks away. After that, you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period opens in November to sign up for health coverage.
Here in California, enrollment figures are pretty encouraging. Before the ACA, there were an estimated seven million uninsured people living in California. (That’s not even including those who are undocumented, many of whom have no access to health coverage.) Now, with only a few days left in the first open enrollment period, that number has decreased dramatically.
Covered California, the state’s health exchange, hit one million enrollees in private insurance plans earlier this week. That’s almost 400,000 more than original projections. Add in those eligible for health insurance through Medi-Cal, and almost three million Californians have been determined eligible for health insurance since the open enrollment period started in October 2013.
But we still have a long way to go. Whites and Asians seem to be enrolling in Covered California at healthy rates, but enrollment numbers for Latinos and blacks remain low. To combat this, Covered California recently changed its marketing strategy to be more culturally and linguistically appropriate in an effort to enroll more low-income people of color in health coverage. Only time will tell if this effort ends up being successful.
When I think of low-income people of color, I think about all the women who raised me: my mom, my aunts, my cousins, and my sister. Those are the people I care about; that’s who I advocate for.
If you’re a woman and you haven’t signed up for health coverage, please consider doing so these next few days; especially if you’re a woman of color. (Here’s why.) You’ll be glad you did. Plus, what better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than through a little love and self-care? You definitely deserve it.