Covered California Adds 18,000 So Far In Special Enrollment Period

Covered California has enrolled about 18,000 people so far in a special enrollment program for individuals who didn’t understand the tax consequences of not signing up for health insurance in 2015.

Launched Feb. 23, the period ends April 30.

The numbers are important because enrollment in Covered California is below projections. The program has about 1.4 million members, significantly behind a program target of 1.7 million. Initial estimates from Covered California show more than 500,000 new consumers enrolled in the program for 2015, but final numbers are not yet available. Although 18,000 new members have enrolled since Feb. 23, it’s unclear how many have picked a plan or paid their first premium.

The state health benefit exchange launched a final push for sign-ups Tuesday and a partnership with the California Tax Education Council, H&R Block and Intuit to reach out to consumers.

“The ACA created a new connection between health coverage and taxes,” Covered California executive director Peter Lee said in a media call Tuesday. “Most consumers who can afford insurance have to buy it.”

Penalties for those who don’t go up this year. A single person earning $40,000 will be fined nearly $600 for failure to get insurance insurance in 2015 , roughly double the amount for 2014, Lee said.

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