Two-week sign-up extension follows Covered California site outages

aibarra@mercedsunstar.comMarch 31, 2014 

Kristy Farrington, a Sacramento State student, looks at a pamphlet with information on Covered California last October.

HECTOR AMEZCUA — hamezcua@sacbee.com

Californians will be given two extra weeks to obtain health care coverage after many were not able to initiate an online application yesterday due to technical difficulties on the Covered California website.

The site saw a dramatic spike in visits, which caused the “enrollment functionality to slow dramatically and to experience unplanned system outages periodically,” according to the website.

Californians who were unable to sign up for coverage Monday will have until April 15 to contact a Covered California Service Center representative or a certified enrollment counselor to explain the difficulties and receive the two-week extension.

According to officials, the extension will work on the honor system.

From midnight to 2:30 p.m. Monday, there were 324,000 unique visitors on the site, with more than 5.7 million page views.

“We have always said that if high website traffic impedes the ability of consumers to apply online for coverage by the deadline, we will help those people cross the finish line,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee. “We were prepared for a last-minute surge of people coming to our website, but sometimes there’s only so much you can do operationally.”

Covered California released new enrollment figures, which revealed that more than 1.2 million Californians had signed up for a health insurance plan as of 2 a.m. Monday.

The surge in enrollment continued as people raced to meet yesterday’s deadline. From March 24 to 2 a.m. on Monday, 155,988 consumers signed up for coverage and 389,840 new accounts were started. Enrollment figures are constantly updated and were the latest available as of press time.

Through mid-March, Medi-Cal had enrolled about 1.5 million new members, including individuals who applied through the Covered California portal and county human services agencies. Low-cost or no-cost coverage through Medi-Cal is available year-round.

The next open enrollment period for coverage that starts in 2015 will run from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15.

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or aibarra@mercedsunstar.com.

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