California

California’s open enrollment ends Jan. 15

Covered California’s open enrollment 2019

Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, talks about California's open enrollment. Consumers have through Jan. 15 to sign up and select a plan through Covered California or directly with health plans for coverage to begin on Feb. 1.
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Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, talks about California's open enrollment. Consumers have through Jan. 15 to sign up and select a plan through Covered California or directly with health plans for coverage to begin on Feb. 1.

If you haven’t enrolled in a health care coverage in California, you are running out of time.

Consumers have through Tuesday (Jan. 15) to sign up and select a plan through Covered California or directly with health plans for coverage that will begin on Feb. 1.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging Californians who need health insurance to enroll as the state’s health insurance marketplace.

“Covered California is in the final two days of open enrollment. That means if you are without health insurance, you need to sign up by Tuesday, Jan. 15, to secure health coverage,” Newsom said.

Last week Newsom unveiled a new health care agenda aimed at enhancing affordability in the years ahead and building on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a pathway to universal coverage.

Covered California launched a final statewide enrollment tour on Jan. 8 to get the word out that the current open-enrollment period ends Jan. 15.

“The clock is ticking for consumers who need quality health care coverage because this year’s deadline is earlier than it has been in the past,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California.

He was in Los Ángeles on Monday to promote open enrollment, to culminate a 2,000-mile-plus bus tour throughout the state.

For those interested in enrolling in a health insurance plan, tomorrow’s deadline will mark the last opportunity for many to get coverage for 2019.

While open enrollment ended for much of the nation in December, California’s final deadline is about two weeks earlier than it was in previous years, when open enrollment ran through the end of January.

“You must take action today or tomorrow to start an application for health coverage,” Lee said.

California is one of six marketplaces across the nation still enrolling consumers through open enrollment, accounting for a quarter of the United States population.

California’s Jan. 15 deadline is due to a state law that established that open enrollment would run from Oct. 15 through Jan. 15 each year. Open enrollment is the one time of the year when consumers can sign up for coverage without needing to meet any conditions.

As of Dec. 31, more than 238,000 consumers had signed up and selected a plan during the current open-enrollment period, which remains in line with projections that there would be decline in enrollment due to recent federal policies and ongoing confusion sowed at the national level, said Yurina Melara, public information officer with Covered California.

In addition, Covered California previously announced that roughly 1.2 million existing consumers had renewed their coverage for 2019, she said.

People should not wait until the last minute, or let the deadline go past, without checking their options, said Melara, adding that consumers can go to coveredca.com to see what plans are available in their area and whether they qualify for financial help to lower the price of health coverage.

According to Covered California officials, roughly 1.1 million uninsured Californians are currently eligible for coverage in Covered California or Medi-Cal including 30,685 people in the Fresno metro area.

“Covered California is the only place you can go to see if you qualify for financial help that can take hundreds of dollars off the price of your insurance premium,” Newsom said. “An estimated 1.1 million Californians are eligible for quality health care coverage, either through Covered California or Medi-Cal, so do not miss this chance to get coverage that will protect you and your family.”.

According to Covered California officials, the majority of uninsured Californians who are eligible for financial help either do not know or mistakenly think they do not qualify. 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.

Melara said 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.

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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