SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With one week to go before the April 15 deadline for application completion, Covered California™ is urging consumers to contact a certified assister to enroll in time to get health insurance benefits and avoid a tax penalty.
Enrollment for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal insurance through the Covered California website will not be affected by the deadline, as it continues year-round.
A crush of consumer interest flooded Covered California’s phone lines and online application system in the final days leading up to the March 31 deadline for getting coverage in the state exchange’s first open-enrollment period. The high volumes slowed the system and may have prevented some consumers from meeting the deadline.
In response to those technical issues, Covered California is allowing consumers until April 15 to contact an enrollment expert and complete their application for May 1 health coverage. They can find free, confidential help by visiting the website at www.CoveredCA.com.
“We recognize that people may not have been able to get through, either by phone or on their computer, to enroll by the March 31 deadline, so we are allowing them to get the help of an assister to cross the finish line,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “Now, we are closing in on the April 15 deadline, and we are working to be sure everyone who wants and needs insurance will complete the process in time. However, we are not developing any policies at this time for any unforeseen technical trouble on April 15.”
Covered California policy set on March 31 states:
- Consumers who missed the March 31 deadline for enrollment because of technical difficulties can contact Covered California Service Center representatives, Covered California Certified Enrollment Counselors, Covered California Certified Insurance Agents, Certified Plan-Based Enrollers and county eligibility workers to explain that they attempted to get through on March 31 and experienced difficulties. Those consumers will have until 11:59 p.m. April 15 to work with the assister to complete their application and choose a plan.
- Consumers who created an online account and completed the first page of the application by 11:59 p.m. March 31 will be able to complete their application for the open-enrollment period, either by themselves online or with the help of a certified assister. Consumers must complete the application and select a plan by 11:59 p.m. April 15. Those enrollees will receive coverage effective May 1.
- Paper applications needed to be postmarked by March 31. Assisters who helped consumers fill out paper applications may submit the applications electronically by April 15.
To get coverage beginning May 1 and avoid a tax penalty for lack of insurance, enrollees must also pay their premium by the payment deadline. Enrollees should check with their insurance companies for payment deadlines.
Covered California’s open enrollment is now closed, but consumers may be eligible for a special-enrollment period. To find out more about special enrollment and Medi-Cal coverage, go to www.CoveredCA.com. The website also has information on how to pay premiums and use insurance benefits.
About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.
Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.
About the Department of Health Care Services
The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) works to preserve and improve the physical and mental health of all Californians. DHCS provides health care services for approximately 9.4 million Californians through Medi-Cal, including medical, dental, mental health, substance use treatment services and long-term services and supports. This is accomplished through an investment of approximately $70 billion annually in public funds for the care of low-income families, children, pregnant women, seniors and persons with disabilities. DHCS focuses on delivering quality, effective services primarily through coordinated systems of care provided by 21 Medi-Cal managed care plans located in all of California’s 58 counties. For more information about DHCS, please visit www.dhcs.ca.gov.