Covered California has announced an extension of the special enrollment deadline to the end of August. Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, Covered California will give consumers additional time to sign up for health coverage during this pandemic—especially for those who lost not just jobs, and income, but also employer-based health coverage.
In March, Covered California responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by initially extending the special enrollment for any eligible uninsured individuals who needed health care coverage through June 30. The deadline was further extended to July 31, and now through August.
During this time, Covered California reports that over 231,000 Californians have enrolled in health care coverage through the exchange—2.5 times more enrollments than during the same period last year.
Individuals who sign up through Covered California will have access to private health insurance plans with monthly premiums that may be significantly lowered due to federal and new state financial help that became effective in 2020.
Covered California’s surge in enrollment highlights the need for health care options for those losing their jobs and employer-based coverage or seeing a decrease in income during the COVID-19 pandemic. California is the only state that offers both federal and state subsides to middle-income individuals (earning up to $75,000/year) and families (of four earning up to $150,000/year) which makes it an affordable option for many Californians.
Under Covered California plans, all screening and testing for COVID-19 is free of charge. This includes telehealth or doctor’s office visits, as well as in-network emergency room or urgent care visits for the purpose of screening and testing for COVID-19.
In addition, Medi-Cal covers costs associated with COVID-19 in both its managed care plans and with fee-for-service providers. Many Californians losing their jobs or income may also be eligible for low or no-cost Medi-Cal (which can be determined through Covered California’s website as well).
While hundreds of thousands have signed up, many more may not be aware of their options. Other Californians who lose coverage may have put off enrolling in a new health plan, thinking the COVID crisis was temporary, but should now take a second look. Getting covered is crucial for financial security and to access needed care, now more than ever, in the middle of a prolonged pandemic.
The continued surge in enrollment in Covered California is clear evidence that many Californians need these options under the Affordable Care Act—but more help is needed. As the COVID-19 health crisis continues, we need state and federal legislators to invest in Medicaid and provide more financial assistance to help for families to afford coverage.
At a time when millions of Californians are now finding themselves without employer-sponsored coverage we must protect, invest, and expand programs like Covered California and Medi-Cal. Congress should increase affordability assistance in exchanges like Covered California, and prevent cuts in Medi-Cal through federal aid. To fully ensure we contain COVID-19, California can continue to expand Medi-Cal, and to supplement state subsides in Covered California.
Health Access Letter: Health Care Budget Decisions to Protect California Consumers in Response to COVID-19
Health4All Coalition Letter: Full-Scope Medi-Cal for Low-Income Undocumented Elders (Ages 65+)
Covered California website: visit www.CoveredCA.com.
Learn more about Californians’ coverage options and protections here: https://health-access.org/covid-19-resources-and-information/