Responding to a strong surge in demand, Covered California on Thursday announced that anyone who still hasn’t enrolled in a 2018 health insurance plan on the individual market now has until Dec. 22 to sign up for coverage that begins Jan. 1.
The previous deadline had been midnight Friday.
“Covered California is seeing a huge influx of consumers, and we know that not everyone is getting through on the phone or is able to get an appointment with a certified enroller,” Peter Lee, executive director of the state-run Obamacare health insurance exchange, said in a statement.
“We’re extending the deadline for Californians to get coverage starting Jan. 1 because we do not want to leave anyone behind,” said Lee.
Since Wednesday, exchange officials said that more than 38,000 new consumers had enrolled in a health care plan, for a total of more than 182,000 new sign-ups since open enrollment began on Nov. 1. That’s 26,000 more compared to the same time last year, when 156,000 had signed up.
While open enrollment ends for most states on Friday, Californians have until Jan. 31, 2018, to sign up.
Anyone enrolling after the Dec. 22 deadline, however, will not have coverage until Feb. 1 at the earliest.
A recent analysis by the exchange found that the net monthly premiums for enrollees who receive subsidies are about 10 percent lower than what new and renewing consumers paid last year.
Lee said the lower prices are a result of more financial help being available for consumers who qualify for financial assistance.
Since 2014, the exchange said that more than 3 million Californians have bought health insurance through the state-run health care marketplace, and almost 4 million more have enrolled in Medi-Cal, the government funded health care program for low-income individuals.
Together, the gains have sliced the rate of California’s uninsured by more than half. In the first six months of this year, the Golden State’s uninsured rate dropped to 6.8 percent, down from 17 percent in 2013 — a new record low.
Anyone interested in learning more about 2018 plans should go to www.CoveredCA.com. Consumers can also check out www.coveredca.com/find-help/ to get help from a nearby enrollment storefront or certified insurance.