SACRAMENTO, Calif. — More than 290,000 new consumers submitted applications and were determined eligible for private health insurance or Medi-Cal in the early weeks of open enrollment, Covered California and the California Department of Health Care Services announced Wednesday.
The consumers, who applied for coverage through Covered California since open enrollment began on Nov. 15, include 48,952 Covered California plan selections and 81,287 eligibility determinations through Dec. 3, as well as 116,262 enrollments into Medi-Cal coverage, and 44,295 who are likely eligible for Medi-Cal. So far in 2014, Medi-Cal has enrolled more than 2.2 million consumers.
“The pace of enrollment is strong, at rates far exceeding those we saw last year, but open enrollment is only three months long this time around, so we are working hard to continue to get the word out,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “As we approach the Dec. 15 deadline to enroll for coverage starting Jan. 1, we encourage everyone in California to explore their options and get covered for 2015.”
“It’s clear that Californians’ desire for health coverage remains strong, and the improvements in the enrollment system are making a big difference,” Toby Douglas, director of the Department of Health Care Services, said. “About 75 percent of new applicants who qualify for Medi-Cal through the Web portal are enrolled immediately into coverage — without delay. We’ll continue our work to make quality, comprehensive coverage more easily available to all Californians.”
Although private insurance sold through Covered California is only available during open enrollment for most consumers, Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round. Individuals may apply for Medi-Cal online, through the Covered California Web portal, via mail by filling out a streamlined application and in person by visiting a county social services office.
The new figures released Wednesday show that Covered California has enrolled consumers at a far faster pace in the early days of open enrollment in 2014 than it did during 2013.
In 2014, it took just 19 days to reach the 2014 enrollment numbers shown in the table above. By comparison, it took 42 days (six weeks) to reach the same number of eligibility determinations in 2013 and 28 days (four weeks) to reach the same number of plan selections in 2013.
Leading up to the Dec. 15 deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1, Covered California is partnering with community-based efforts across the state to promote enrollment, including:
- Promoting more than 40 health coverage enrollment events between Dec. 11 and Dec. 14 at libraries, schools and malls, including the Ontario 5K Reindeer Run, the Pasadena Career Fair, Mission Valley Mall and the National Orange Show Swapmeet. (Visit www.CoveredCA.com/get-help/local/events/ to find enrollment events.)
- Sending more than 10 million email marketing messages to Californians most likely to be uninsured, to encourage enrollment by Dec. 15.
- Airing English and Spanish TV and radio advertising statewide encouraging enrollment in Covered California by Dec. 15 for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015.
- Expanding the social media messaging about the Dec. 15 deadline via Facebook and Twitter in English and Spanish.
- Building on Covered California’s partnership with physicians, pharmacists, physician assistants, medical groups and hospitals statewide to promote enrollment in health coverage. More than 172,000 individual health professionals have been mailed materials to promote open enrollment as part of the “I’m In” campaign in doctor’s offices, pharmacies, medical groups and hospitals statewide. (Read more about this partnership at http://news.CoveredCA.com/2014/12/leading-physicians-medical-groups.html.)
- Distributing a co-branded letter from leading immigrant-rights organizations and Covered California to assure applicants that they can apply for coverage without fear their information will be shared with immigration authorities. (Read more at http://news.CoveredCA.com/2014/12/covered-california-partners-with.html.)
While the Dec. 15 deadline is important for those who want their coverage to start Jan. 1, open enrollment continues through Feb. 15. Consumers wishing to apply can go to the Covered California website at www.CoveredCA.com and click “Find Local Help.”
More than 12,000 Certified Insurance Agents, 10,000 county eligibility workers and more than 6,000 Certified Enrollment Counselors are partnering with Covered California, ready to help provide free, confidential assistance to enroll consumers in person.
Covered California’s Service Center remains open with extended hours this weekend, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Lee encouraged consumers to use the Covered California website’s "Shop and Compare Tool” so they can preview plans side by side and select coverage that best suits their budget and health care needs.
“Most consumers who sign up through Covered California are likely eligible to receive financial assistance to help them pay for coverage, as were about 1 million Californians who enrolled last year,” Lee said.
The data Covered California released today relates to new enrollment only since open enrollment began on Nov. 15. Data about those consumers renewing their 2014 coverage will be released sometime in early 2015.
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. 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 about 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 more than 11.3 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 $90 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 22 Medi-Cal managed care plans located in all of California’s 58 counties. For more information about DHCS, please visit www.dhcs.ca.gov.