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ABC’s of your Health: Did you get caught in the rush of last-minute, open enrollment shoppers?

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 got caught in the rush of last-minute open enrollment shoppers, you are in luck because Covered California can help.

Since the open-enrollment period ends at midnight tonight (Jan. 15), Covered California officials announced it will give consumers who begin their enrollment application before midnight three additional days to complete the process.

“Covered California is still here for you, but you have to hurry,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “We know that thousands of people wait until the final day, and if that is you, Covered California will help you get across the finish line.”

The announcement came after a surge of interest that saw more than 15,000 consumers sign up and select a plan on Monday.

Consumers who began their application before the end of Jan. 15 will have until midnight on Jan. 18 to complete the process with the help of a certified enroller such as a Certified Insurance Agent or service center representative, as well as community enrollment partners such as Certified Enrollment Counselors, Certified Application Counselors and Plan-Based Enrollers.

Consumers can also visit Covered California's website and sign up to have a certified enroller call them. Most calls are returned within 30 minutes and it is free and confidential.

Those who finish their application by Jan. 18 will have their health care coverage start on Feb 1.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom joined Covered California’s efforts to enroll uninsured consumers by urging Californians in need of a health plan to take action before open enrollment ends.

“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,” Newsom said.

To find local help to complete the enrollment process, consumers should go to www.coveredca.com/find-help/. Covered California has 725 enrollment centers statewide, and more than 17,000 certified enrollers who can assist consumers in understanding their choices and enrolling, including individuals who can assist in other languages.

“Our top priority is making sure consumers who are trying to sign up for health insurance get the time and assistance they need,” Lee said. “Life can change in an instant, and no one should be turned away just because they get caught up in a wave of last-minute shoppers.”

Consumers can also reach the Covered California service center by calling (800) 300-1506. The service center will be open until midnight on Tuesday, and from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Wednesday through Friday.

Customers can explore their options online and find out if they qualify for financial help by using the Shop and Compare Tool.

Open enrollment is the one time of the year when people can sign up for coverage without needing to meet any conditions.

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, however Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round.

Since 2014, more than 3.5 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.

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

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