Covered California deadline looms near

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Covered California is reminding state residents that the deadline for open enrollment is approaching.

Explaining different health insurance plans is often easier when done face to face and in the Chinese-American community, the strategy is working.

"We happen to be very successful because we're a trusted member," Eddie Hu said.

Hu is an insurance counselor with Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles. The group is one of many community partners teaming up with Covered California to reach newcomers who don't always understand how to access care.

Hu helps his clients figure out who their doctors are and helps solve potential problems that might keep them from seeing the doctor.

"Twenty-four percent of those who enroll are Asian American," said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. "And we're out there running ads in Chinese, in Korean, in Vietnamese."

The Covered California tour bus made stops near Koreatown and Orange County's Little Saigon. The deadline, for coverage that would start by Jan. 1, is Friday, Dec. 15.

Despite talk about "repealing and replacing," Lee says the state's marketplace is healthy and open for business.

"People are calling us confused," Lee said. "But as soon as they call up or reach out to an insurance agent, they're finding out that we are rock solid. People can sign up for coverage. It's in the bank for 2018."

Covered California's open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2018.

But one group that may miss the insurance bus is children. Jimmy Kimmel made mention of that as he returned to his show after his son's second heart surgery. He pleaded with Congress to restore CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"This is literally a life-and-death program for American kids. It's always had bipartisan support," Kimmel said. "But this year they let the money for it expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their millionaire and billionaire donors. Imagine getting the letter and not knowing how you are going to save your children's life."

Kimmel also reminded viewers to enroll before Dec. 15 to avoid a penalty. The GOP's proposed tax plan would eliminate the penalty.

Lee adds he also wants to make sure consumers know there are more options for financial help, as well, which may help make the coverage more affordable.

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