Covered California launched a new television ad campaign on Monday to reach uninsured Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ads support Covered California’s new special-enrollment period, which runs through May 15, to let uninsured Californians know that they still have time to sign up for health insurance.

“Taking care of your health has never more important than it is right now, and we want everyone to know that if you do not have health insurance, the time is now to check out Covered California and see if you are eligible for financial help to lower the cost of your coverage,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “You do not want to be uninsured right now and anyone who needs coverage – and is eligible to sign up through Covered California – can do so immediately.”

The ads are running in California’s biggest media markets, in both English and Spanish, to make sure that consumers know that enrollment is open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Covered California is investing more than $6 million over the next few months to encourage consumers to check out their options. Digital ads have been appearing online since Feb. 1.

“Californians will be seeing ads from both Covered California AND the federal government for the first time in four years,” Lee said. “We look forward to not only working with the new administration to get the word out that now is the time to enroll in affordable coverage, but also building on the Affordable Care Act to move us forward to coverage for all.”

The new special-enrollment period allows uninsured individuals to sign up for coverage without needing to meet the normal qualifying life events, such as recent loss of coverage or moving. Anyone who meets Covered California’s eligibility requirements, which are similar to those in place during the annual open-enrollment period, can sign up for coverage through May 15 and have their coverage begin on the first of the following month.

“Every Covered California plan is comprehensive, covering everything from preventive care to mental health,” Lee said. “It’s safe, it’s secure, and in just minutes you can find out if you are eligible for financial help and the options available in your area.”

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to endanger the lives of Californians across the state. The most recent data shows 3.4 million people have been infected and the death toll is nearly 47,000.

The most recent data available shows an estimated 2.7 million Californians remain uninsured, including a projected 1.2 million who are eligible for financial help through Covered California or for low-cost or no-cost coverage through Medi-Cal.

The largest portion of these uninsured who are eligible for help are in Southern California, with an estimated 718,000 people living in the Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Orange and San Diego metro areas “The biggest hurdle to health insurance remains affordability, but most people who are uninsured do not know they are eligible for financial assistance”, Lee said.