LOS ANGELES (CNS) - As COVID-19 cases surge, Covered California is urging uninsured residents to sign up for coverage by this Wednesday's deadline.
"Covered California is a critical safety net to help people get quality health care coverage during the surging pandemic and ongoing recession," said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee. "With our first enrollment deadline coming up this week, we want to encourage anyone who needs coverage to check out their options and sign up so they can start the New Year with protection and peace of mind."
Californians who want their coverage to start on Jan. 1 must sign up by Dec. 30, a deadline that was extended in response to the pandemic. However, the open enrollment period runs through Jan. 31. In either case, consumers will need to pay their first bill when enrolling.
More than 1.2 million California residents are uninsured despite being eligible for financial help from Covered California or low-cost or no-cost coverage through Medi-Cal, according to Covered California.
"Most of the people who are uninsured either do not know they are eligible for financial assistance, or they have not checked recently to see how affordable quality coverage can be," Lee said. "No one should wait to sign up, and we are extending the deadline through Dec. 30 to give all of us more time to spread the word and make sure our family and friends have health insurance during this pandemic."
Roughly nine out of 10 consumers who enroll through the Covered California marketplace receive either federal tax credits, state subsidies or both, helping to make health care more affordable. California subsidies benefit nearly 600,000 residents, including thousands who had previously been ineligible for financial help because they exceeded federal income limits.
Of those eligible for subsidies, more than half are believed to be Latino, a group that has been disproportionately hard-hit by the pandemic.
The average consumer receiving financial help with health insurance paid an average of $127 per month for coverage, with federal and state assistance reducing their costs by $454, according to Covered California.
Covered California recently mailed masks to 1.5 million enrollees, and Lee urged every resident to use face coverings.
"Getting covered with a mask will help protect Californians and their families and friends; getting covered with a health plan will help protect people if they get sick," he said. "Covered California helps you get access to some of the best doctors and health care facilities in the country and provides peace of mind during these challenging times where there is so much uncertainty."
The state individual mandate penalty will also return for 2021. Consumers who can afford health care coverage, but choose to go without, could pay a penalty when they file their state taxes in 2022. The penalty, administered by California's Franchise Tax Board, could be as much as $2,250 for a family of four.
To learn more about coverage options or compare rates, visit www.coveredca.com.