Covered California Grants Extra Time to Complete Enrollment

Covered California has vowed to promote health insurance enrollment until Sunday – the final day of the sign-up period – and will allow five extra days for finishing last-minute applications.

The state’s health exchange has not been so strict with deadlines since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in October 2013 and will be flexible with Sunday’s cutoff date.

According to a news release, people who start an application or make an appointment by Sunday will have until Feb. 20 to complete enrollment. To take advantage of the extra time, they must be working with a certified insurance agent, enrollment counselor or county eligibility worker.

Anyone who tries to start an online application Monday won’t have any luck.

The state-run exchange also announced that more than 354,000 new enrollees have signed up since Nov. 15, pushing its overall enrollment to 1.3 million. California is trying to reach a goal of 1.7 million by next week.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said in an interview that the state’s website has been upgraded to handle higher volume and he doesn’t expect any significant computer troubles at the deadline like last year.

“We expect to see lines out the door this weekend,” Lee said. “Even the best insurance agent can only see so many people in one day. That is why we’re doing this safety valve to Feb. 20.”

In the final three days, enrollment events will be held throughout the state for residents who face tax penalties for not having health insurance.

Close to 90 percent of those who enrolled in health plans offered by Covered California were granted subsidies that lowered their monthly premiums in 2014. Depending on income, the federal health law also provides for assistance with co-payments when patients visit their doctors.

A few enrollment events are planned in Stanislaus County:

-According to Covered California’s website, enrollment assistance in English and Lao will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at Ceres Christian Church, 3502 Roeding Road.

-Golden Valley Health Centers will have counselors available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at California State University, Stanislaus, MSR 130, at 1 University Circle in Turlock.

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