Covered California Trying to Beat Deadline

AP Photo/Gerry Broome
AP Photo/Gerry Broome

At midnight on Sunday, open enrollment for Covered California, the state’s version of Obamacare, will end. With that deadline imminent, Covered California officials offered a new incentive for prospective customers: begin an application or schedule a meeting with an insurance agent or enrollment counselor and the deadline for enrollment will be moved back until next Friday.

Covered California officials 25,645 enrolled on Friday according to the Los Angeles Times, which increased the total number of enrollees in the state to 1.36 million. Covered California’s goal is to enroll 1.7 million people. Those people without coverage will have to pay a federal tax penalty.

The first year of Covered California’s existence, the state enrolled 1.2 million people, but the many of the remainder who are still uninsured make too much money to meet the standard for assistance. Individuals who are eligible must make under $46,000 annually, and a family of four can make up to $94,000. Some potential customers still insist that health insurance’s costs are too much for them to handle.

Covered California officials have been targeting Hispanics, who make up almost 40 percent of the subsidy-eligible population in California. Almost 30 percent of the exchange’s new enrollees have been Hispanic. Many Hispanics were concerned that revealing information to the state could trigger deportations of family members, but the Times reported in January, “Covered California has also made a more concerted effort this time to assure people that residency information about family members who are not applying won’t be shared with immigration authorities. The state has partnered with leading immigrant-rights groups to help spread that message.”

Almost three million residents have joined Medi-Cal since January 2014, pushing the total of enrollees to over 12 million.