The open enrollment period for Covered California health insurance begins Nov. 1 and will continue through Jan. 31, 2016. Currently, about 1.4 million Californians obtain their health insurance through Covered California.

Dec. 15 is the last day to enroll in or change plans for new coverage to start January 1, 2016. The Open Enrollment period ends Jan. 31, 2016, and enrollments or changes made after Jan. 16 will take effect March 1, 2016.

If an individual is not enrolled in a 2016 health insurance plan by Jan. 31, 2016, enrollment in a health insurance plan for 2016 will not be permitted unless the person or family qualifies for a special enrollment period. These circumstances normally involve a change in family status, such as marriage or birth of a child, or job related such as loss of other health coverage.

In July, Covered California announced its 2016 rates. Statewide the average increase was 4 percent, slightly lower than the 4.2 percent increase for 2015. In the Inland Empire region, which is Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the average increase is only 1 percent.

In the Inland Empire region, all consumers will have a choice of at least two insurance companies to choose from and some will have as many as five. For more details on the plans in specific pricing regions, see the booklet “Health Insurance Companies and Plan Rates for 2016,” posted online at

The weighted average increase for Southern California consumers who stay in their current plan is 1.8 percent, while for consumers in Northern California it is 7 percent. Consumers in Southern California can save an average of nearly 10 percent by switching to a lower-cost plan in the same metal (i.e., Gold, Silver, Bronze) tier.

Covered California’s 2016 Shop and Compare Tool is available online at Consumers will be able to look at plans and products in their area and get a preliminary estimate of costs and premium assistance for 2016 coverage.