On the final day of open enrollment, today, Jan. 31, with tens of thousands of people expected to sign up for health coverage, Covered California announced it would help consumers “cross the finish line” if they get caught up in the surge of last-minute shoppers.

Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace, where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies.

“Our numbers are very strong this year, and history shows us that thousands of consumers will sign up on the last day,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California in a prepared statement. “Health care is too important, and we want to make sure that people who want to get covered are not caught up in today’s expected surge of last-minute shoppers.”

Consumers who begin their application by the end of Jan. 31 will have until midnight Feb. 2 to complete the process with the help of a Certified Insurance Agent. They may also get help from a Service Center representative, but only through 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Community enrollment partners such as Certified Enrollment Counselors, Certified Application Counselors and Plan-Based Enrollers will also be able to assist.

Those who finish their application by Feb. 2 will have their health care coverage start on March 1, 2018.

“Our top priority is making sure Californians have the time and help they need to find the Covered California health plan that works best for them,” Lee said. “Covered California has partners who will make enrollment easier than you think, and with the financial help that is available it can be more affordable than you realize.”

A recent Covered California analysis found that the net monthly premiums for enrollees who receive financial help are on average 10 percent lower than what new and renewing consumers paid last year. The lower prices are a result of more financial help being available for consumers who qualify for assistance. The Affordable Care Act is designed to protect consumers by providing more premium tax credits when premiums rise. And for the many Californians in the individual market who do not get financial help, the robust competition has meant that for many, premium increases have been kept in the single digits.

Since 2014, more than 3 million people have purchased health insurance through Covered California, and nearly 4 million have enrolled in the state’s Medi-Cal program. Together, the gains have cut the rate of the uninsured in California from 17 percent in 2013 to a historic low of 6.8 percent as of June 2017.

Consumers 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 800 storefronts statewide, or more than 17,000 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.

Once open enrollment ends, consumers may sign up only if they experience a life-changing event such as losing their health care coverage, getting married, having a child or moving. Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round.