SACRAMENTO — Covered California announced an extension of the first major deadline to have health insurance starting Jan. 1 in response to a surge of interest in enrollment and to ensure consumers have ample time to enroll amid news reports of a legal ruling on the Affordable Care Act.
The announcement came on the final day of the federal open enrollment period, and hours after a Texas United States Court District Court Judge declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.
“Open enrollment is full-steam ahead and continues in California and other states for several more weeks,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said in a prepared statement. “No one in California should let this ruling discourage them from enrolling in health coverage or be worried about using the health plan they have.”
Federal officials have indicated that the law will remain in place pending appeal.
“This case will wind its way through the courts and I’m confident the Supreme Court will once again do the right thing and uphold the Affordable Care Act,” Lee added.
While the open-enrollment period for health insurance ended for most of the country on Saturday, Covered California reminds consumers that they will be able to sign up all the way through Jan. 15, 2019.
“For most of the nation, the open-enrollment period (ended Saturday night), but that’s not the case in California,” Lee said. “Covered California will be open for another month. We put consumers first, making sure they have time to find the plan that best fits their needs.”
In addition to reminding consumers about Covered California’s longer open-enrollment period, Californians will also have more time to sign up for coverage that starts on New Year’s Day. While Saturday marked the original deadline, consumers will now have through Friday, Dec. 21, to select a plan that will start on Jan. 1.
Consumer interest has surged in the past week, with approximately 58,000 people signing up for coverage since Monday, including 12,000 on Thursday and 17,000 on Friday. The increased pace brings the number of new enrollees to select a plan during the current open enrollment period to 179,000. An additional 1.2 million Covered California consumers have renewed their existing coverage for 2019.
“We have seen tens of thousands of people flood into Covered California over the past week, and we want to make sure that everyone can start the new year off right by being covered,” Lee said. “While we have been considering a deadline extension for some time, the potential confusion surrounding this ruling means giving our consumers five more days to enroll is the right thing to do.”
Consumers can easily find out if they are eligible for financial help and see which plans are available in their area by entering their ZIP code, household income and the ages of those who need coverage into Covered California’s Shop and Compare Tool.
“We know that four out of five uninsured Californians who are eligible for financial help either do not know or mistakenly think they do not qualify,” Lee said. “If you have checked before, take the time to check again, and don’t leave money on the table when you can get the peace of mind and protection that comes with health care coverage.”
Nearly nine out of 10 Covered California consumers receive financial help. The average Covered California enrollee pays about $5 per day for coverage, but many pay far less. One out of every three Covered California consumers who receive financial help can purchase a Silver plan — which provides the best overall value — for $50 or less per month. Nearly three out of five of these consumers can get a Silver plan for $100 or less per month.
Those interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to www.CoveredCA.com, where they can get help to enroll. They can explore their options and find out if they qualify for financial help by using the Shop and Compare Tool. They can also get free and confidential enrollment assistance by visiting www.coveredca.com/find-help/ and searching among 700 storefronts statewide or 16,000 certified enrollers who can assist consumers in understanding their choices and enrolling, including individuals who can assist in other languages. In addition, consumers can reach the Covered California service center by calling (800) 300-1506.
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace, where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies. 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 www.CoveredCA.com.