State

Covered California’s open enrollment deadline extended to Dec. 21

Peter V. Lee, Covered California executive director, during the statewide bus tour on Nov. 15 in Fresno to encourage consumers to sign up for health care coverage during the current open-enrollment period.
Peter V. Lee, Covered California executive director, during the statewide bus tour on Nov. 15 in Fresno to encourage consumers to sign up for health care coverage during the current open-enrollment period. mortizbriones@vidaenelvalle.com

If you missed the first major deadline to have health insurance starting with the New Year, don’t panic.

Covered California extended its open enrollment deadline until Friday, Dec. 21 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. For those consumers enrolled by Dec 21, health care coverage would starts on Jan. 1, 2019.

Consumers who enroll after Dec. 21, and by Jan. 15, will have their coverage start on Feb. 1.

The announcement was made on Dec. 15, 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.

According to Covered California officials, the Texas District Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act has no impact on Covered California’s open enrollment period.

“Open enrollment is full-steam ahead and continues in California and other states for several more weeks,” said Peter V. Lee, Covered California executive director. “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.

According to Covered California officials, 58,000 consumers have signed up during the week of Dec. 10, including 12,000 on Thursday, Dec. 13 and 17,000 on Friday, Dec.14.

The increased pace brings the number of new enrollees to select a plan during the current open enrollment period to 179,000 and 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.”

While open enrollment ended in 44 states on Dec. 15, California is one of seven health insurance marketplaces which will enroll consumers after Dec. 15, serving 25 percent of the U.S. population.

Covered California’s enrollment period began on Oct. 15 and continues through Jan. 15, 2019, thanks to Assembly Bill 156, which was signed last year by the governor and gives Californians three full months to sign up for health coverage.

“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,” Lee said.

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.

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud

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