Still need health care? Covered California deadline extended

Because of a huge surge in demand, Covered California announced Thursday that enrollees who sign up as late as Dec. 22 will still be able to get coverage starting Jan. 1. The deadline had been Friday.

In just three days, between Monday and Wednesday, the agency charged with signing up California residents for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act has seen enrollment jump by 38,000 new consumers. Since open enrollment began on Dec. 1, more than 182,000 people have obtained coverage. That figure is an increase of 17 percent over total enrollment at this time last year.

“Covered California is seeing a huge influx of consumers, and we know that not everyone is getting through on the phone or is able to get an appointment with a certified enroller,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “We’re extending the deadline for Californians to get coverage starting Jan. 1 because we do not want to leave anyone behind. Our responsibility is to make sure we help every single person seeking to enroll get the coverage they need.”

Although the federal marketplace will close enrollment on Saturday in the 35 states it serves, Covered California will continue to offer coverage until Jan. 31 as all exchanges have done in the past. Those who sign up later would not see policies go into effect until Feb. 1, at the earliest.

On average, enrollees who receive financial help are reporting that their net monthly premiums are 10 percent below what they paid last year, according to a Covered California analysis. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ensures that consumers will receive higher premium tax credits when premiums rise. To learn more about coverage, visit coveredca.com.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee