Covered California Enrolls Thousands of Individuals into Obamacare Plans

More than 197,000 people have signed up for health insurance next year through Covered California, the state insurance exchange announced.

The number represents enrollment as for Dec. 15 and includes a two-day surge of more than 55,000 on Dec. 14 and 15 — just before the initial sign-up deadline for insurance coverage starting Jan.1.

Open enrollment continues through the end of January, but anyone signing up between now and then won’t have coverage until February or March.

The rush to meet the early deadline was so great, Covered California extended it two days. The federal government did the same for its exchange at

More than 4.1 million people have signed up for insurance through the federal exchange since enrollment began Nov. 1, according to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That figure does not include people who signed up for state-run exchanges.

The mid-December deadline was evident at an enrollment storefront in Indio, where agent Cesar Perez said he enrolled 42 people over 48 hours.

“For two days, that’s a lot,” Perez said. He was anticipating more busy days on Jan. 14 and 15, before the next coverage deadline, and the last three days of the months, just before the enrollment window for 2016 closes for good.

The shop next to the Best Western hotel on Indio Boulevard is one of 500 spots around the state where people can go ask questions and sign up for the private insurance plans offered through Covered California.

The third annual enrollment push has involved less fanfare than past years, but Covered California is still planning to spend $29 million on marketing efforts.

Some of the money is going toward reaching uninsured people who qualify for income-based discounts.

This month Covered California released a series of regional maps showing what it called “hot spots,” areas where a large number of people who qualify for subsidized health insurance likely live. In the Coachella Valley, the major hot spots were the eastern valley, south La Quinta and Cathedral City.

“Our research indicates that one-third of those eligible to get financial help to buy insurance don’t know it’s available,” Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said in a statement.

An estimated 750,000 uninsured people in California qualify for the discounts. Around 92,000 of them live in the Inland Empire, according to Covered California.

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