Covered California Offers To Help Consumers ‘Cross the Finish Line’ As Interest Surges Prior To the Final Weekend of Open Enrollment

Consumers Must Begin the Application Process by Midnight Sunday and Complete Enrollment by Saturday, Feb. 6

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Due to a last-minute rush for health coverage, Covered California announced Friday that it would keep the doors open for consumers who start the application process but are unable to complete their enrollment by this Sunday.

The announcement follows a surge of enrollment that saw tens of thousands of consumers enroll in health insurance plans this week and that left certified enrollers with even more applications to file before the Jan. 31 deadline.

“Our top priority is making sure consumers who are trying to get health insurance get the time and assistance they need,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “Covered California knows that health care coverage is too important, and people should not be turned away just because they get caught up in a wave of last-minute shoppers.”

Lee said consumers who start their enrollment process, or make an appointment, by midnight Jan. 31 will have until midnight Feb. 6 to complete the application as long as they are working with a Certified Insurance Agent, Certified Enrollment Counselor, Certified Plan-Based Enroller or Service Center representative at Covered California.

“Anyone who does not have health insurance should visit CoveredCA.com and find out where they can get help enrolling before Jan. 31,” Lee said. “If you get started before Sunday, our certified enrollers and Service Center representatives will help you get across the finish line by Feb. 6.”

Consumers can sign up, or begin an application, in a variety of ways, including enrolling online at www.CoveredCA.com, calling (800) 300-1506 to enroll over the phone or finding in-person help in their communities. In-person enrollment assistance can be found by visiting www.CoveredCA.com/get-help/local and searching for enrollment help by ZIP code.

Because the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty known as the “shared responsibility payment,” Lee said the time is now for consumers to get coverage for their families instead of paying a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service when they file their 2016 taxes. The fine is calculated two different ways, and uninsured consumers will pay whichever amount is higher.

The first calculation is 2.5 percent of household income, with a maximum of the total yearly premium for the national average Bronze health insurance plan premium. The second calculation is $695 per adult plus $347.50 per child under the age of 18, with a maximum of $2,085.

“You no longer have to gamble on something as important as your health, because there is financial assistance available to help bring you and your family quality health care coverage,” Lee said.

Nearly nine out of every 10 Covered California enrollees receive some level of financial assistance. Covered California says that 670,000 enrollees paid $100 a month or less for their coverage in 2015 and that 350,000 enrollees paid $50 or less per month.

After open enrollment ends, consumers may sign up only if they have a life-changing event such as getting married, having a child or moving. Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market 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 www.CoveredCA.com.