Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director and a mural artist who created the art for the local community in front of the Covered California bus at a promotional event in San Jose, Calif., Nov. 7. (Covered California)

The “Covered in Art” bus tour traveled 1,300 miles and made stops in cities across California over six days to promote enrollment in health insurance. Local artists painted permanent murals at community clinics and other locations across the state to promote health and wellness and attract attention to places where Californians can enroll. Californians are encouraged to visit and check out their options because prices for some may be lower this year.

Covered California concluded a six-day, statewide bus tour to enroll consumers in health insurance, visiting San Jose and Oakland to feature a comprehensive marketing and outreach campaign and showcase local muralists to promote health and wellness.

“We’ve launched this 22-stop bus tour and our statewide advertising with ads to make sure everyone in California knows there are quality health insurance options available now for 2018,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “While there’s uncertainty in Washington, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and financial help is bringing care within reach for millions whether you live in San Jose, Oakland or any community in and around the greater Bay Area.”

Open enrollment in California, which started on Nov. 1 and will run through Jan. 31, 2018, is the one time of year when anyone who needs health insurance can enroll without having to meet special qualifying conditions. Consumers should enroll by Dec. 15 for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2018. (Open enrollment in many other states will end after 45 days on Dec. 15).

The “Covered in Art” bus tour made stops at locations throughout the state where local artists painted murals to attract attention to enrollment locations and promote health and wellness. At least twelve murals will be painted on locations in communities across the state.

“The ‘Covered in Art’ project is a living demonstration of the fact that health care is local and that Covered California is woven into the fabric of local communities,” Lee said.

In San Jose, artist Franceska Gamez created a 20-feet by 8-feet mural at PHP Insurance Services. The mural’s theme, “Health Brings Peace of Heart and Happiness” is representative of how health and wellness is important to all, from the beginning of life till the end. Gamez believes that health care is life changing, and the peaceful nature of the piece reflects the importance of health care.

Gamez has been commissioned to create public works by the California Faculty Association, Greenpeace DC, The California Auto Museum, and more recently, Asian American Women Artists Association as well as the California Rice Commission.

In Oakland, artists Max Martilla and Arrington West created two 10-by-20 foot murals on adjoining walls at the East Oakland Youth Development Center. The murals’ theme “Health & Wellness for Oakland” is inspired by the many students that the East Oakland Youth Development Center serves.

The mural incorporates images of EOYDC’s students promoting health and wellness, by making them look like they are actively painting the mural and playing basketball through the lettering.

“Part of Covered California’s tradition is multi-cultural, multi-lingual marketing and outreach in diverse communities across the state to promote enrollment, and make sure everyone in the state knows there’s help to buy health insurance,” Lee said.

“Covered California is not standing still,” Lee said. “For the first time, consumers can find resources on our website and even enroll on their cell phones. In addition, we have new tools that make it easier to shop and easier to find resources in other languages.”

Research commissioned by Covered California shows that many people still don’t know there’s financial help to buy health insurance, and those concerned about the future of health exchanges are less inclined to enroll. But Lee said Covered California is solid for 2018.

Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) at the Covered California promotional event in San Jose, Calif., Nov. 7. (Covered California)

The art tour is being supplemented by a new statewide advertising campaign, with the message “Life can change in an instant,” to drive home the message that anyone can find themselves suddenly needing health insurance.

“We want consumers to know we’re offering the same quality coverage we’ve offered since we opened our doors in 2014,” Lee said. “Don’t let the distant thunder in Washington keep you from getting the financial help available to buy health insurance. Covered California is here for you today and will be here for you tomorrow.”

Consumers interested in learning more about their options should go to where they can shop to explore their options or get free in-person assistance in the area where they live. In addition, consumers can call the Covered California service center to enroll at (800) 300-1506.

Covered California is the only place where individuals who qualify can get financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Depending on their income, some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit