On Thursday, Covered California announced that over 1.7 million individuals have signed up to receive healthcare coverage during the 2023 open enrollment process. This announcement comes as Medi-Cal eligibility redeterminations are set to begin on April 1st, with millions of Californians estimated to lose coverage.
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace that offers affordable and high-quality insurance; individuals may also receive financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs.
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“Covered California is woven into the fabric of our healthcare system, providing coverage in every corner of the state and protecting more than 1.7 million Californians,” Covered California Executive Director Jessica Altman said in a press release. “The strength in these numbers is driven by the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides increased and expanded financial help, bringing the cost of coverage within reach for millions of Californians who need health insurance.”
Since its first open enrollment period in 2013, Covered California’s uninsured rate fell from 17.2% to a record low of 7% in 2021. Since the start of 2020—prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—Covered California’s total enrollment increased by 200,000.
Covered California saw 263,320 new enrollees in 2023, while 1,476,040 individuals have renewed coverage. The total number of enrollees last year was 1,777,442, while the total number of enrollees for 2023 is 1,739,360.
“The strength and stability that Covered California has seen since the pandemic started are a testament to the work we do, and the fundamental belief that healthcare is a right and not a privilege,” Altman said. “Covered California is dedicated to increasing the number of people who have quality health insurance and reducing the state’s uninsured rate, which now sits at a record low.”
While Covered California’s open enrollment period closed on Jan. 31st, the special enrollment period provides opportunities for individuals to signup under certain life circumstances. Common special enrollment eligibility includes getting married, having a baby, permanently moving to California, or losing healthcare coverage.
During the federal COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), states received additional Medicaid coverage under the condition that disenrollments would be postponed, as long as the emergency order was in place. Under the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, continuous coverage requirements are no longer tied to the PHE.
California’s Medi-Cal eligibility redetermination process will span over 14 months and will redetermine eligibility for about 15 million current beneficiaries. Covered California and Medi-Cal use the same application, and some individuals may qualify for both programs.
Lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would allow more individuals who are not currently eligible for Covered California coverage due to their immigration status to acquire coverage. Assembly Bill 4, which was referred to the Assembly Committee on Health on Thursday, would waive a requirement that limits Covered California coverage for individuals based on immigration status, and would expand the scope of coverage.