Update: California: If you started your enrollment by MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, you have until FRIDAY to complete it!

Covered California has announced a policy similar to Colorado's just-announced "in line by midnight" policy, although in a more formal and less-restrictive way:

Covered California Offers to Help Consumers Who Get Caught in Surge of Last-Minute Shoppers on Final Day of Open Enrollment

  • Covered California’s open-enrollment period ends at midnight tonight.
  • Consumers who start an application before midnight will have through Friday, Jan. 18, to finish the process with the help of a service center representative or certified enroller.
  • Covered California has thousands of certified enrollers available to help consumers get across the finish line.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced on Tuesday that it would give consumers who begin their enrollment application before midnight tonight three additional days to complete the process. The move comes after a surge of interest that saw more than 15,000 consumers sign up and select a plan on Monday.

The most recent semi-official enrollment tally I had before today was 1.438 million people as of New Year's Eve, so adding on another 15,000 for 1/14/19 still leaves a 13-day gap, but that still would bring the unofficial total up to at least 1,453,000...except that figure includes "roughly" 1.2 million 2018 enrollees who renewed their coverage; the "roughly" wording suggests that it's likely somewhere between 1,175,000 - 1,200,000...let's call it 1.185 million. In other words, the 15,000 who enrolled yesterday probably just barely covers that.

A little last-minute speculation: Last year's official final tally was 1,521,524 QHP selections, so that leaves around an 83,000 enrollee gap. If over 15,000 enrolled yesterday, the odds are around 20,000 will do so today. Hardly anyone would have enrolled on New Year's Day, and the weekends (5th - 6th, 12th - 13th) are always a lot slower, so if I assume perhaps 9,000 across those 5 days and 25,000 across the other 8 days, that should add around 54,000. If you assume another few thousand people take advantage of the 3-day "in line by midnight" extension, that should bring the grand total up to around 1.49 million...perhaps 30,000 shy of the 2018 Open Enrollment Period, or down around 2% year over year.

“Covered California is still here for you, but you have to hurry,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “We know that thousands of people wait until the final day, and if that is you, Covered California will help you get across the finish line.”

Consumers who began their application before the end of Jan. 15 will have until midnight on Jan. 18 to complete the process with the help of a certified enroller such as a Certified Insurance Agent or service center representative, as well as community enrollment partners such as Certified Enrollment Counselors, Certified Application Counselors and Plan-Based Enrollers.

They can also visit Covered California’s website and sign up to have a certified enroller call them. Most calls are returned within 30 minutes and it is free and confidential.

Those who finish their application by Jan. 18 will have their health care coverage start on Feb 1.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged uninsured Californians to take action before open enrollment ends.

“An estimated 1.1 million Californians are eligible for quality health care coverage, either through Covered California or Medi-Cal, so do not miss this chance to get coverage that will protect you and your family,” Newsom said.

To find local help to complete the enrollment process, consumers should go to www.coveredca.com/find-help/. Covered California has 725 enrollment centers statewide, and more than 17,000 certified enrollers who can assist consumers in understanding their choices and enrolling, including individuals who can assist in other languages.

In addition, consumers can reach the Covered California service center by calling (800) 300-1506. The service center will be open until midnight on Tuesday, and from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. from Wednesday through Friday.

Customers can explore their options online and find out if they qualify for financial help by using the Shop and Compare Tool.

Open enrollment is the one time of the year when people can sign up for coverage without needing to meet any conditions.

“Our top priority is making sure consumers who are trying to sign up for health insurance get the time and assistance they need,” Lee said. “Life can change in an instant, and no one should be turned away just because they get caught up in a wave of last-minute shoppers.”

Once open enrollment ends, consumers may sign up only if they experience a life-changing event such as losing their health care coverage, getting married, having a child or moving. Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round.

Since 2014, more than 3.5 million people have purchased health insurance through Covered California, and nearly 4 million have enrolled in the state’s Medi-Cal program. Together, the gains have cut the rate of the uninsured in California from 17 percent in 2013 to a historic low of 6.8 percent as of June 2017.