Demand for Coverage Continues to Be Strong, with Applications Submitted for More Than 592,000 People Through Dec. 15
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — More than 592,000 people sought coverage and were determined eligible for private health insurance and eligible or likely eligible for Medi-Cal in the first month 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 157,361 eligibility determinations and an additional 144,178 plan selections for private coverage, as well as 216,423 enrollments into Medi-Cal coverage and 74,965 who are likely eligible for Medi-Cal. So far in 2014, Medi-Cal has enrolled more than 2.2 million consumers.
“We saw tremendous momentum during the first month of open enrollment, with more than 25,000 people completing enrollment on Monday alone,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “This is further proof of the great demand that Californians have for quality, affordable health care coverage. With only two months to sign up, all Californians should be considering their options now so they can get covered in 2015.”
“Even though Medi-Cal enrolls throughout the year, it’s important for those without insurance to apply as soon as possible, so they can start enjoying the security of health care coverage,” said Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas. “We’re encouraged that more and more Californians are taking advantage of these coverage opportunities through Medi-Cal and Covered California.”
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 human services agency.
County human services agencies have 22,000 eligibility workers who can enroll people into health care coverage, both Medi-Cal and exchange-based options, in all 58 counties.
In just one month this year, more Californians selected a Covered California plan than in the first two months of last year’s open enrollment — with 144,178 plan selections this year, compared with 109,296 plan selections in the period from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, 2013.
Lee said Covered California is working to make sure those who started enrollment in private coverage can complete the process, and he highlighted the 157,361 who completed the application process and were determined eligible for Covered California coverage — many able to receive financial support — but who have not yet selected a plan.
“Many consumers are new to health insurance, and they may need assistance to get across the finish line,” he said, noting that the efforts will continue through Dec. 21 for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015. “We encourage those consumers to get help — from our Service Center or from tens of thousands of insurance agents, Certified Enrollment Counselors or county eligibility workers in their communities — so they can obtain health coverage as soon as possible.”
Lee added, “The evidence is clear that Covered California’s effort to encourage people to get help in their communities or with Covered California is working.”
New data show that about 31 percent of new enrollees during the current open-enrollment period have signed up through “self-service” for a Covered California plan, with the others having their application completed with the help of in-person assistance or with the help of the Covered California Service Center. During the first open-enrollment period, about 41 percent of consumers enrolled on their own.
To find in-person assistance or an enrollment event that is close to you, visit www.CoveredCA.com and click on the “Find Local Help” button.
In addition to the expansion of in-person assistance, Covered California announced that its partners have now established more than 300 storefronts across the state where consumers can get help when it is most convenient for them. A complete list of the storefront locations and hours can be found at www.CoveredCA.com/get-help/local/storefronts.
The data Covered California released today relate 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.