Graph courtesy Covered California
Graph courtesy Covered California

Covered California™ confirmed that last Monday was its deadline for open enrollment in an exchange health insurance plan and announced its policies for completing an application for health care coverage.

“Covered California is not extending its deadline for applying for a health plan,” CC Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “However, we’re committed to helping all those who started an online application to cross the finish line.”

CC also clarified the process for completing applications for health coverage in 2014.

Individuals who started an online application by 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 31, will have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, to complete their application and select a plan.

To have started an application, the consumer must have taken at least the following steps:

  • Created an online account.
  • Filled out all required information on the “Apply for Benefits” page and clicked “Continue.”
  • After clicking on “Continue,” individuals were taken to the “Consent for Verification” page, where they needed to click on “Save and Exit” or “Continue.”

After an enormous traffic load affected its site, CC announced Tuesday, April 1, “Consumers who were unable to create an online account or start their online application 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.

“These consumers will have until 11:59 p.m. [Tuesday], 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 delegate. Consumers must complete the application and select a plan by 11:59 p.m. April 15. These enrollees will receive coverage effective May 1.

“Paper applications need to be postmarked by March 31; however, to guarantee application completion and coverage effective May 1, consumers are encouraged to enroll online with the help of a certified delegate.”

Lee announced Monday that enrollment in health insurance plans in California had surged past 1.2 million and continued into the final hours before the midnight deadline.

Consumer interest in CC has been strong, with nearly 15 percent of those enrollees registering in the past week. During the same week, 389,840 accounts were started — including 123,787 on Saturday and Sunday as consumers hurried to meet the deadline.

Wait times for consumers calling CC’s Service Center averaged 42 minutes in the past week and about 70 minutes over the weekend rush.

Enrollment is necessary, but a premium must be paid in order for coverage to begin.

While Monday was the final day for enrollment in a CC health insurance plan, enrollment in Medi-Cal continues year-round. Individuals who would like their eligibility determined for low-cost/no-cost Medi-Cal may apply at

Although general enrollment ended Monday — unless the individual had already started to enroll — special enrollment periods for certain hardships or a change in circumstances like the birth of a child or losing a job may still permit eligibility.

Also, enrollment in Medicaid and the small businesses exchanges, or SHOP, is open year-round.

Regular enrollment isn’t scheduled to start again until Nov. 15, and ends Feb. 15, 2015.

If you didn’t enroll, you might be subject to a penalty, which this year is $95 or 1 percent of annual income above the filing threshold of $10,150, whichever is higher. However, there are exemptions to the mandate for people who earn too little, who would struggle to afford insurance or other reasons. Also, the Obama administration has spelled out 14 hardship exemptions.

The penalty won’t actually be assessed until people file their taxes next year, but the administration isn’t expected to enforce the mandate all that strongly.