California: Amid Surging COVID-19 Pandemic and Impending Enrollment Deadline, @CoveredCA Urges Consumers to Sign Up for Health Care Coverage

via Covered California:

  • The first major open-enrollment deadline is this week: Consumers who want their coverage to start on Jan. 1 need to sign up by Dec. 30.
  • The deadline comes as COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to rise across California, with hospitals overloaded with patients and limited ICU bed capacity.
  • Having health care coverage, staying COVID-safe and getting vaccinated when you are able to are critical to helping overcome the pandemic.
  • More than 1.2 million Californians are uninsured right now, even though they are eligible for financial help from Covered California, or low-cost or no-cost coverage through Medi-Cal.
  • Covered California’s open-enrollment period runs through Jan. 31.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With the first open-enrollment deadline approaching this week, Covered California urged consumers to sign up now so they can have their health care coverage be effective on Jan. 1.

“Covered California is a critical safety net to help people get quality health care coverage during the surging pandemic and ongoing recession,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “With our first enrollment deadline coming up this week, we want to encourage anyone who needs coverage to check out their options and sign up so they can start the New Year with protection and peace of mind.”

In response to the pandemic, Covered California extended the enrollment deadline to receive Jan. 1 coverage from Dec. 15 to Wednesday, Dec. 30. Consumers who sign up by Dec. 30 will need to pay their first bill in order to have their coverage take effect on Jan. 1.

Right now, an estimated 1.2 million Californians are uninsured — even though they are eligible for financial help through Covered California, or they qualify for low-cost or no-cost coverage through Medi-Cal (see Table 1: Estimated Number of Uninsured Eligible for Financial Help Through Covered California or Medi-Cal [by Metro Region]).

  • Northern California and Sacramento Valley: 139,000
  • Greater Bay Area: 122,000
  • Central Coast: 60,000
  • San Joaquin, Central Valley, Eastern, Kern: 163,000
  • Los Angeles: 338,000
  • Inland Empire: 192,000
  • Orange: 88,000
  • San Diego: 100,000
  • Total: 1,202,000

Of those eligible for subsidies, more than half — 650,000 — are believed to be Latino (see Table 2: Estimated Number of Uninsured in California Eligible for Financial Help Through Covered California or Medi-Cal [by Race and Ethnicity]).

  • Latino: 650,000
  • Caucasian: 367,000
  • Asian: 89,000
  • African American: 67,000
  • Other: 29,000
  • Total: 1,202,000

Financial Help Lowers Costs for Consumers

Roughly nine out of every 10 consumers who enroll through Covered California receive financial assistance — in the form of federal tax credits, state subsidies, or both — which helps make health care more affordable. California’s state subsidies, which first became available in 2020, are benefiting nearly 600,000 consumers — including more than 41,000 middle-income consumers who had previously been ineligible for financial help because they exceeded the federal income requirements.

“Most of the people who are uninsured either do not know they are eligible for financial assistance, or they have not checked recently to see how affordable quality coverage can be,” Lee said. “No one should wait to sign up, and we are extending the deadline through Dec. 30 to give all of us more time to spread the word and make sure our family and friends have health insurance during this pandemic.”

The latest data shows that, with the combination of federal tax credits and state subsidies, the average consumer receiving financial help paid an average of $127 per month for their coverage (with federal and state assistance reducing their costs by $454 or nearly 80 percent).

Get Covered, Stay Covered

Covered California is urging consumers to “get covered” — not only with quality health insurance coverage, but also with a mask and vaccine when they become available.

Covered California mailed masks to 1.5 million enrollees and asked consumers to take all necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus, while sharing the news about open enrollment.

“Getting covered with a mask will help protect Californians and their families and friends; getting covered with a health plan will help protect people if they get sick,” Lee said. “Covered California helps you get access to some of the best doctors and health care facilities in the country, and provides peace of mind during these challenging times where there is so much uncertainty.”

Shop and Compare

Those interested in applying for coverage can explore their options — and find out whether they are eligible for financial help — in just a few minutes by using the Shop and Compare Tool at CoveredCA.com. All they need to do is enter their ZIP code, household income and the ages of those who need coverage to find out which plans are available in their area.

“Do not wait until the last minute, or let Wednesday’s deadline go past, without checking your options,” Lee said. “In only a few minutes at CoveredCA.com, you can see which plans are available in your area and whether you qualify for financial help to bring the price of coverage within reach.”

The state individual mandate penalty will also return for 2021. Consumers who can afford health care coverage, but choose to go without, could pay a penalty when they file their state taxes in 2022. The penalty is administered by California’s Franchise Tax Board, and could be as much as $2,250 for a family of four.

Getting Help Enrolling

  • Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options can:
  • Visit www.CoveredCA.com.
  • Get free and confidential in-person assistance, 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.
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