California: @CoveredCA confirms over 84K have enrolled during #COVID19 SEP so far; 2.5x normal rate

Two weeks ago, Covered California reported that 58,000 residents had enrolled in ACA exchange coverage during their COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period, of which roughly 20,000 did so via standard SEPs (losing coverage, moving, getting married/divorced, etc), while an additional 38,000 took advantage of the COVID-specific SEP.

Today they issued a press release with updated numbers and more:

Covered California Continues to See Strong Consumer Interest in Quality Health Care Coverage During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • More than 84,000 people have signed up for coverage through Covered California since March 20, when the exchange announced a special-enrollment period in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The exchange is sending more than 11 million emails to consumers to help them understand their health care coverage options during this unprecedented time.
  • Consumers can enroll in as little as 30 minutes, either through CoveredCA.com or over the phone with the help of one of Covered California’s thousands of Certified Insurance Agents or enrollers.
  • In addition, Medi-Cal enrollment is open year-round for consumers who qualify.

Covered California announced on Tuesday that more than 84,000 people had enrolled in health care coverage since the exchange announced a special-enrollment period in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pace of sign-ups during this five-week period has been more than 2.5 times the level that Covered California saw during the same period in 2019.

Hmmm...this is actually a slight drop in the pace since two weeks ago. For the first 22 days, they averaged 1,745 COVID SEP enrollments per day vs. 909/day for all other COVID SEPs in 2019. Over the longer 36-day period, they've had 84,000 enrollees, of which around 50,400 are COVID specific, or roughly 1,400 COVID SEPs per day.

While this surprised me--I figured the pace would increase as more of the newly-unemployed started scrambling for coverage--I also just realized that many of those who were laid off at the beginning of the month still have their coverage until April 31st, so there might be a delayed reaction of a few weeks until the next wave. Hard to say.

“During this challenging time, Covered California continues to see tremendous interest, with thousands of people signing up for quality health care coverage each day,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “We want to remind consumers that if they lost their health insurance, or were uninsured when this crisis began, there is a path to coverage for them through either Covered California or Medi-Cal.”

The enrollment data covers the period from March 20, when Covered California opened the health insurance exchange to any eligible uninsured individuals who need health care coverage amid the COVID-19 emergency, through April 24. Anyone who is uninsured and meets Covered California’s eligibility requirements, which are similar to those in place during the annual open-enrollment period, can sign up for coverage through June 30.

During this time, Covered California has also seen tremendous consumer interest online, with nearly 1.4 million new users visiting CoveredCA.com, which is almost twice the number of visits seen during the same time period last year. There were also more than 208,000 unique visits to Covered California’s Medi-Cal page, which is nearly a 50 percent increase over the same time period last year.

“In many ways, the pandemic has made clear the crucial importance of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions,” Lee said. “Over the years, California’s leaders have put a system in place that protects Californians and provides them with a way to get the care they need when they need it the most.”

Helping Consumers Understand Their Options

Covered California is also sending out 11.6 million emails to consumers. The emails encourage people to use Covered California to find out if they are eligible for financial assistance to help pay for the cost of their health care coverage. In addition, the email notes that all Covered California health plans offer a telehealth option, where consumers can get care without needing to visit a provider in person, and it helps direct tells them on how they can enroll in either Covered California or Medi-Cal.

Signing Up for Health Care Coverage

Consumers can easily enroll through CoveredCA.com and find out whether they are eligible for financial help through Covered California or if they are eligible for no-cost or low-cost coverage through Medi-Cal. People who sign up through Covered California will have their coverage begin on the first day of the following month. Those eligible for Medi-Cal can have coverage that is effective retroactively to the first day of the month from when they submitted their application.

In addition to enrolling online, consumers who need health care coverage can visit Covered California’s Find Help page to get assistance over the phone from one of Covered California’s thousands of Certified Insurance Agents. The “Help on Demand” feature allows consumers to get a call back from a certified enroller.

“Health insurance is only a phone call away, and consumers can get free and confidential assistance from one of Covered California’s trained professionals while remaining safe and protecting themselves and their families,” Lee said.

Consumers can easily find out if they are eligible for Covered California or Medi-Cal, and see which plans are available in their area, by using the Shop and Compare Tooland entering their ZIP code, household income and the ages of those who need coverage.

Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can also:

  • Visit www.CoveredCA.com.
  • Get free and confidential assistance over the phone, in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller.
  • Have a certified enroller call them and help them for free.
  • Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.