Covered California has begun its annual open enrollment period. About 11 percent of adults in California remain uninsured. New data show about 2 million are eligible for either the state’s health insurance exchange or Medi-Cal but have not yet enrolled.
Nicole Oehmke is with Enroll America, a health care enrollment coalition.
"The idea of signing up for health insurance, while it seems like something that is mainstream, is really not a concept that the remaining uninsured may be familiar with or see as something that’s valuable," she says.
Oehmke says many of the eligible uninsured live in mixed-immigration status families and may be afraid to register. Flannery Hauck is with SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West which has worked to sign people up for insurance. She agrees with Oehmke
"That’s one of the reasons that we have to help people overcome their fear," she says. "To understand that family members are eligible to enroll and there’s going to be no repercussions. But that’s why doing this work in person and in appropriate language really makes a difference.
Oehmke says it's estimated about 40 percent of California’s uninsured are undocumented immigrants.