The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the healthcare inequities that we face here in the Central Valley. Access to care, provider shortages, long waiting periods and long drives to see a provider are a daily healthcare reality.

Due to the pandemic, many have had to decide between paying rent, feeding their families, and having health insurance. Many people who are eligible to receive low-cost, high-quality health insurance under the American Rescue Plan are not insured. I’d like to see that change.

The American Rescue plan is one of the biggest investments in the past decade for healthcare savings. It is making a significant impact on healthcare affordability for 2.5 million Californians. New and expanded financial help is now available to both low- and middle-income families. Most uninsured Californians will be able to get a trusted name-brand health insurance plan for less than $100 a month or can get basic coverage for as little as $1 a month.

Covered California has launched a special new enrollment period to ensure that Californians have the opportunity to save on their health insurance. The sooner you enroll, the sooner you start saving. Your coverage will begin the following month; if you enroll by June 30, coverage begins July 1. Benefits include services like blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, mammograms and cervical cancer screenings for women, vaccinations for children and coverage for emergency room visits and prescription drugs. Many of these tests could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars without insurance.

Covered California will help inform you of the options that are available to you, so you can enroll in a plan that best fits your needs. Visiting CoveredCA.com, you can quickly calculate your savings, and look at variety of name-brand plans to choose from that offer comprehensive benefits. Covered California can even help you determine if you and your family qualify for low-cost or free health coverage through Medi-Cal.

Visit CoveredCA.com to view your healthcare coverage and cost savings options. Help is free, offered in many languages and confidential. For in-person COVID-safe support, Covered California has hundreds of partners with storefronts across California who can help you shop for a plan and guide you through the enrollment process. For help near you, visit CoveredCA.com and click “Find Local Help.” You can also call the Covered California Service Center at (800) 300-1506.

As California moves to right the healthcare inequities the state faces, including in the Central Valley, it is especially important that everyone has health insurance. If you or someone in your family gets sick, has a health emergency, or needs preventive care, having health insurance will ensure treatment isn’t a financial barrier.

Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, represents the 14th Senate district in California, which includes cities in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.