Covered California’s enrollment surges past 329,000 before deadline

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced that a surge of consumers interested in affordable, quality health care coverage had signed up through the agency this week. Through Jan. 27, more than 329,000 new enrollees had picked a health coverage plan during the current open-enrollment period. In addition, more than 148,000 new and renewing consumers had enrolled in the new optional family dental coverage.

“If you haven’t looked at your new coverage options, you’ve still got time to get covered,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “Don’t gamble with your health or your financial future. Enroll now and protect yourself from medical bills that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars if you get sick or injured.”

The agency also revealed that consumers had placed more than 120,000 calls to Covered California’s Service Center over the last three days, with wait times averaging less than three minutes.

Lee said Covered California has hundreds of Service Center representatives, and tens of thousands of Certified Insurance Agents and other certified enrollers ready to assist consumers over the phone or in person.

Covered California’s announcement comes one day after President Barack Obama urged uninsured Californians to take action now and enroll in a health care plan before the upcoming Jan. 31 deadline.

“Heaven forbid you get a serious illness or there’s a traffic accident in the family. You can lose your house. You can lose everything you’ve worked for,” Obama said. “Right now, in California, you can get health care that is high quality for less than the price of your cellphone bill.”

Obama made the comments while discussing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with television reporters from KABC in Los Angeles and KPIX in San Francisco, saying health insurance offers Californians protection and peace of mind.

“If you get sick, if you get … in a serious accident, you want that financial security,” Obama said.

Consumers can sign up in a variety of ways, including enrolling online at www.CoveredCA.com, calling (800) 300-1506 to enroll over the phone and finding in-person help in their communities. In-person enrollment assistance is free, confidential and offered in a variety of languages. Help can be found by visiting www.CoveredCA.com/get-help/local and searching by ZIP code.

In addition, Covered California previously announced that more than 500 enrollment events were planned across the state for the final month of open enrollment.

The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty known as the “shared responsibility payment.” The payment is calculated two different ways, and uninsured consumers will pay whichever amount is higher. The first calculation is 2.5 percent of your household income, with a maximum of the total yearly premium for the national average Bronze plan premium. The second calculation is $695 per adult plus $347.50 per child under the age of 18, with a maximum of $2,085.

Nearly nine out of every 10 Covered California enrollees receive some level of financial assistance. At least 670,000 enrollees paid $100 a month or less for their coverage in 2015, and 350,000 enrollees paid $50 or less per month. Consumers can easily find out if they qualify for financial assistance by using Covered California’s Shop and Compare Tool at www.CoveredCA.com/shopandcompare/2016/.

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31. Consumers will only be allowed to sign up after that time if they have a life-changing event such as getting married, having a child or moving. Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round.