CA enrollment deadline approaches for 2021 health coverage

Eufemia Didonato

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Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, said the deadline to receive coverage starting Jan. 1 is Wednesday.

AP

If you want health insurance coverage starting Jan. 1, you’ll have to sign up for a policy by midnight Wednesday in California.

While the state’s open enrollment will continue until Jan. 31, any policies started after the Wednesday deadline won’t provide coverage until Feb. 1.

That’s the word from Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee, the leader of the state’s health insurance exchange.

“Covered California is a critical safety net to help people get quality health care coverage during the surging pandemic and ongoing recession,” Lee said. “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.”

Originally, the Jan. 1 coverage deadline was Dec. 15, but amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders of Covered California extended the enrollment period by 15 days. Those who sign up by Wednesday will have to pay their first bill to ensure coverage begins.

Covered California’s team reports that about 1.2 million Californians have not signed up for health insurance yet. If residents can’t provide proof of insurance, they will face a penalty when their state income taxes come due. That penalty, which is administered by California’s Franchise Tax Board, could be as much as $2,250 for a family of four, according to Covered California officials.

Both the state and federal governments offer subsidies to defray the cost of insurance, and nine out of every 10 people who enrolled through Covered California received some financial assistance. First offered this year, state subsidies are going to nearly 600,000 consumers, according to Covered California, and more than 41,000 of them are middle-income consumers who were ineligible for federal financial help.

“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 average consumer receiving paid an average of $127 per month for their coverage because federal and state assistance cut their costs by $454, or nearly 80 percent.

Want to see what your costs would be? Check out the shop and compare tool at coveredca.com.

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Cathie Anderson covers health care for The Bee. Growing up, her blue-collar parents paid out of pocket for care. She joined The Bee in 2002, with roles including business columnist and features editor. She previously worked at papers including the Dallas Morning News, Detroit News and Austin American-Statesman.

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