Covered California Extends Deadline for Jan. Individual & Family Health Coverage
Source: The Modesto Bee, by Cathie Anderson
After seeing a strong surge in enrollment last week, Covered California has extended the deadline until Friday for state residents to sign up for a health insurance policy that would begin covering them on Jan. 1. The original deadline was Sunday.
“Covered California is still open for business and making sure consumers can have a health plan in place on Jan. 1,” said Peter V. Lee, Covered California executive director. “Covered California is putting consumers first, making sure they have time to find the plan that best fits their needs.”
Lee said tens of thousands signed up for coverage Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week. Many middle-class Californians, he said, are just realizing they now qualify for new state subsidies that will help them cover the cost of their insurance premiums.
Even Gov. Gavin Newsom sent out a reminder that Californians about the new subsidies, tweeting out a video Monday where his chief of staff, Ann O’Leary, hands him a holiday checklist that includes reminders to buy his son, Dutch, that scooter he wants for Christmas – and to, oh yeah, tell his family and friends that, if they sign up by Friday, their insurance coverage will still start Jan. 1.
“Yeah, but what about this thing on health care?” Newsom asks. “What’s this deadline?”
After O’Leary obligingly “reminds” him what the item means, Newsom touts “first-in-the-nation subsidies that only California’s providing” and reminds O’Leary that it was a good thing that she had insurance when she unexpectedly broke her leg. The video also features a Marvel Comics-style outtake after a screen flashes telling viewers they can sign up at coveredca.com.
Nearly 500,000 Californians are eligible for the subsidies. Covered California estimates that, for the first time in any state, people who earn between 400 and 600 percent of the federal poverty line will be receiving an average of $460 per month per household.
Insurers are expecting a big increase in the numbers of people enrolling for coverage in 2020, Lee said, so premium increases are relatively flat, averaging just 0.8% statewide. This is what can happen, Lee said, when you build on the Affordable Care Act, informally known as Obamacare.
Lee urged everyone to go to coveredca.com and check the shop-and-compare tool to determine whether they are eligible, saying many people have been surprised to learn they qualify for help. If you need further help with enrollment, call (800) 300-1506.
Although California’s open enrollment period will continue through Jan. 31, 2020, coverage won’t start until Feb. 1 for those who sign up Saturday and thereafter.
Californians who don’t have health insurance will face a tax penalty that would amount to at least $2,000 for a family of four. That’s because Newsom signed a bill this year that instituted a state mandate that all individuals be insured.