About 474,000 Californians signed up for health coverage through Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, by Feb. 15 – the original deadline for the second open enrollment period.
A total of 1.4 million purchased insurance or renewed their coverage this year. “That’s a huge number and a number we are proud of,” said Peter V. Lee, Covered California executive director, during a conference call on Tuesday.
This number includes 36,000 people who signed up on Sunday alone, Lee said.
“It’s a sad testament that people do wait until the last minute,” he said.
Lee also announced that those who started an application with an insurance agent or counselor, or made an honest effort to start, now have until Feb. 22 to complete the enrollment process.
The deadline for those who started the application process was extended to match the federal marketplace’s new deadline, this way avoiding possible confusion among consumers, Lee said.
With this new deadline, Lee said he is confident enrollment numbers will surpass 500,000, which was the enrollment goal for this second period.
An additional 779,000 consumers enrolled in Medi-Cal from Nov. 15, 2014, through Jan. 31, 2015.
People who do not have insurance coverage in 2015 will face a $325 per person fee, or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater, when filing their taxes. The fee for 2014 was $95 per person, or 1 percent of income.
“If you don’t enroll, it’s possible you won’t be able to get insurance until 2016, because you can only enroll after that time if you have a specific qualifying condition or qualify for Medi-Cal,” Lee said.
Enrollment numbers by region and county are expected to be released sometime in the next two weeks.
Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.