By Covered California
In response to a strong surge in enrollment, Covered California extended the deadline for consumers to sign up for health insurance that would start on Jan. 1. They will now have through Friday, Dec. 20, to sign up and have their coverage go into effect on New Year’s Day.
“Covered California is still open for business and making sure consumers can have a health plan in place on Jan. 1,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “Covered California is putting consumers first, making sure they have time to find the plan that best fits their needs.”
Beginning late last week, Covered California saw tens of thousands of people sign up for coverage on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“Open enrollment is full-steam ahead and this year’s enrollment period is more important than before,” Lee said. “Sign up now and you may be eligible for new financial help that is available for the first time, and you can avoid the possibility of paying a significant penalty for not being covered.”
Restoring the individual mandate
California lawmakers put two new policies in place for 2020 that were designed to encourage enrollment and lower costs.
First, they restored the individual mandate penalty that was part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from 2014 to 2018, meaning consumers who do not get covered could face a penalty when they file their 2020 taxes in the spring of 2021.
For those facing a penalty, a family of four would pay at least $2,000, and potentially more, for not having health insurance throughout 2020.
Covered California is working with the Franchise Tax Board, which will administer the penalty, to alert Californians about the new law and reduce the number of uninsured people in our state.
New state subsidies
The second new policy for 2020 is financial help for eligible Californians that will lower the cost of their coverage. Last week, Covered California announced that nearly 500,000 people who had already signed up for coverage in 2020 will be receiving the new subsidies.
On average, consumers between 200% and 400% of the federal poverty level will receive $21 per household, per month on top of their federal tax credits. Meanwhile, for the first time, people who earn between 400% and 600% of the federal poverty level will be receiving an average of $460 per month, per household.
“California will be making history this year, becoming the first state in the nation to make coverage more affordable for middle-income people like small-businesses owners and entrepreneurs,” Lee said. “If you have checked Covered California out before, check again, because you could be eligible for new financial help that will lower the cost of your coverage by hundreds of dollars a month.”
Getting help enrolling
Consumers can easily find out if they are eligible for financial help and see which plans are available in their area by entering their ZIP code, household income and the ages of those who need coverage into Covered California’s Shop and Compare Tool (https://apply.coveredca.com/lw-shopandcompare/).
Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can:
• visit www.CoveredCA.com,
• get free and confidential in-person assistance (https://www.coveredca.com/find-help/) in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller, or
• call Covered California at 800-300-1506.
California’s open-enrollment period continues through Jan. 31, 2020, but people who enroll after Dec. 20 will have their coverage start Feb. 1.