More Than Three-Quarters of a Million Enrolled in Medi-Cal
“With this surge in momentum, we expect more than 500,000 people will enroll in a health plan through Covered California during this open-enrollment period,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said.
More than 779,000 consumers enrolled in Medi-Cal from Nov. 15 through Jan. 31.
“People who are uninsured want health coverage, and the significant growth in Medi-Cal enrollment during the past few months shows that the program is meeting an important need in our state,” California Department of Health Care Services Director Jennifer Kent said.
Covered California ended its second open-enrollment period at midnight Sunday, although consumers have until midnight on Sunday, Feb. 22, to complete their applications for coverage. (This deadline was extended by two days to correspond with the deadline adopted by the federal government.) Medi-Cal enrollment continues year-round.
“If you got started or made an attempt to enroll before the 15th, our agents, enrollment counselors and Service Center representatives will help you get across the finish line by midnight this Sunday,” Lee said.
Consumers cannot complete the process themselves. They must engage a Certified Insurance Agent or Certified Enrollment Counselor or call the Covered California Service Center.
“If you don’t enroll, it’s possible you won’t be able to get insurance until 2016, because you can only enroll after that time if you have a specific qualifying condition or qualify for Medi-Cal,” Lee added.
Once enrolled, consumers are strongly encouraged to make immediate payment to ensure their coverage is in effect on March 1.
Lee said that the new tax penalty for being uninsured — known as the “shared responsibility payment” — motivated many consumers to purchase insurance this year during open enrollment.
Consumers who are filing their taxes this year for tax year 2014 are paying a penalty for being uninsured for the first time. And the penalty for going without insurance in 2015 will go up significantly: Those who can afford insurance but choose not to buy it will be subject to paying $325 per adult in a household or 2 percent of their income, whichever is greater. (Visit www.CoveredCA.com/individuals-and-families/getting-covered/the-tax-penalty-for-remaining-uninsured for more information.)
Today’s preliminary report of enrollment data will be followed in the weeks ahead by more comprehensive reporting about new enrollment, including data on age, race and ethnicity, enrollments by region and county, and the percentage of subsidized enrollees vs. unsubsidized enrollees.
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 about 12 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.