Consumers in the Southland and the rest of the state who begin their enrollment application for health care coverage under Covered California before midnight Tuesday now have until midnight Friday to complete the process.
The deadline extension comes after a surge of interest that saw more than 15,000 consumers sign up and select a plan on Monday, according to Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee.
"Covered California is still here for you, but you have to hurry," Lee said.
"We know that thousands of people wait until the final day, and if that is you, Covered California will help you get across the finish line."
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Those who finish their application by midnight Friday will have their health care coverage start on Feb 1.
The Jan. 18 deadline will mark the last opportunity for many to get coverage for all of 2019.
This year's deadline is shorter than in previous years, when open enrollment ran through the end of January.
California is one of six marketplaces across the nation still enrolling consumers through open enrollment, accounting for a quarter of the United States population.
Open enrollment is the one time of the year when consumers can sign up for coverage without needing to meet any conditions.
"Do not wait until the last minute, or let this deadline go past, without checking your options," Lee said.
"In only a few minutes at coveredca.com, you can see which plans are available in your area and whether you qualify for financial help to bring the price of coverage within reach."
On Jan. 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged uninsured Californians to take action before open enrollment ends. Newsom announced, as his first official act, that he would focus on making health care more affordable.
The governor proposes to make healthcare more affordable and restore the individual shared responsibility provision, which was repealed by the federal government in 2019, as part of his goal to continue toward universal coverage.
as of Dec. 31, more than 238,000 individuals had signed up and selected a plan during the current open-enrollment period, in line with projections that there would be decline in enrollment due to recent federal policies.
Covered California previously announced that roughly 1.2 million existing consumers had renewed their coverage for 2019.
According to Lee, the majority of uninsured Californians who are eligible for financial help either do not know or mistakenly think they do not qualify.
They can find out if they are eligible for financial help and see which plans are available in their area by going to www.CoveredCA.com, entering their ZIP code, household income and the ages of those who need coverage into Covered California's Shop and Compare Tool.
They can also get free and confidential enrollment assistance by visiting www.coveredca.com/find-help/ and searching among 700 storefronts statewide or 16,000 certified enrollers who can offer assistance in understanding the choices and enrolling, including individuals who can assist in other languages.
Calls can also be made to the Covered California service center by calling (800) 300-1506. Depending on their income, some Californians may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.
Covered California is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the Legislature.