Due to big demand, Calif. extends deadline for Obamacare sign up
OAKLAND, California — Due to strong demand, Covered California is giving consumers more time to sign up for health coverage that will start on January 1.
Now consumers have until midnight of December 17 to sign up for health care coverage.
The surge in enrollments in the past two days nearly doubled the number on new enrolees compared with the same two days last year.
More than 11,000 consumers signed up on Monday and nearly 14,000 signed up on Tuesday, bringing the total to more than 25,000 new enrolees, surpassing the number of consumers who signed up between Dec. 12 and 13, 2015, when more than 13,000 consumers enrolled.
The surge in enrollment brings this year’s total to more than 153,000 new enrollees. In comparison, Covered California had 144,000 people sign up by this time last year.
“This strong demand shows that Californians are using the competitive marketplace that Covered California provides,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “We are ahead of last year’s pace and are giving our Service Center staff and certified enrollers the time they need to bring health care coverage to thousands more.”
In a press event at the New East Medical Services (NEMS) at Chinatown in San Francisco, Lee sought to assuage fears over the impending assumption of President-elect Donald Trump to office due to Trump’s campaign pledge to abolish Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.
“We know that after the presidential elections, people were confused and have questions. We want to put their minds at rest that right now we are enrolling people and renewing coverage for 1.3 million Californians who have already signed up for Covered California and enrolling people who are newly covered to our market place,” Lee announced.
Lee reminded that the national discussions on the national health care program that the Trump administration may put in place of the Obama Affordable Care Act will take time: “It will not happen overnight. In the meantime, people should be covered and signed up for the insurance.”
Lee also assured Bay Area consumers that Covered California is actively exerting efforts to make sure that all Californians are made to sign up and enroll.
“We have resources throughout the Bay Area and California available where people can call and get help in English, Chinese, Tagalog and a range of other languages everyone they can speak to can speak about insurance to help people understand what they need to know”
There are about 30 enrollment centers helping people enroll. “If you go to our website, CoveredCA.com, you can get ways to shop and compare the options available for you. You can find out about plans like Blue Shields, Kaiser, HealthNet, Molina. You could save your plan through a cart and come back later. But again, health insurance is confusing. So if you are confused, go online and find help,” Lee advised.
Covered California enrollees who identified themselves as Filipinos are 28,480 or 3.2 percent of over 1.3 million members while approximately 22.5 percent (231,020) of over 1.3 million consumers identify themselves as Asian.
California has lowered the rate of the uninsured from 18% to 7.5%, the lowest in history.
For her part, NEMS Chief Operating Officer Diana Kawasaki-Yee reported that since the implementation of the affordable health care act, NEMS has been a certified enroller and has helped 4,575 individuals apply for Covered California.
“We also had 3,287 public Californian insurance patients here at NEMS. Covered California provides access to affordable health care coverage to our patients and to their family and for that we are very, very thankful,” Kawasaki-Yee disclosed.
How to enroll
Consumers interested in enrolling online can do so on CoveredCA.com. They can also get free and confidential in-person assistance, in a variety of languages, by clicking on “Free Local Help to Enroll.”
They can find a nearby enroller or have a certified enroller contact them through the “Help on Demand” feature. Consumers can also enroll over the phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.
Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2017. Consumers who enroll after the Dec. 17 deadline will have their coverage start on either Feb. 1 or March 1.
Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the legislature.