Covered California Help Closed for Cesar Chavez Day--on Obamacare Deadline

Monday, March 31 marked the deadline for enrolling in health insurance under Obamacare. In California, it is also a public holiday, Cesar Chavez Day, honoring the labor organizer and civil rights leader. That means the state government is closed, as are many local agencies. And so--partly--is Covered California, the state Obamacare exchange, though there are Californians who might need help enrolling before the deadline.

The Covered California website has had its problems, and March 31 was no different. When this reporter tried to test the system by applying for individual coverage, the site would not work. Luckily, the site has an online help function. 

Unfortunately, online chat is closed, in observance of Cesar Chavez Day (screenshot above). The toll-free number for Covered California directs callers back to the website before hanging up.

Ironically, Covered California used Cesar Chavez Day to help motivate Californians to register before the end of the enrollment period. Covered California executive director Peter Lee also stated that the program was celebrating Cesar Chavez Day by encouraging more Californians to enroll through the website, which has been streamlined for the purpose of boosting numbers. However, help will be unavailable on the day itself.

The federal Obamacare exchange website, healthcare.gov, also suffered outages on March 31. Lee and Covered California appear to be counting on the extension arbitrarily announced by the Obama administration, which will allow those who claim they began an application before the deadline to complete it by April 15. Presumably, help will be available online and by telephone during the first two weeks of April. 


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