Covered Calif. Leading the Way During Special Enrollment Period
More than 22,000 Californians have signed up for health insurance through the state's exchange since its special enrollment period started in late February, far exceeding state-by-state enrollment through the federal exchange, CNBC reports (Mangan, CNBC, 4/23).
On Feb. 23, Covered California launched a special enrollment period for individuals who were not aware of the tax penalty for remaining uninsured. Eligible consumers who wish to sign up during the period must indicate on their applications that they were unaware of the tax penalty for foregoing health insurance.
Under the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, U.S. residents who did not have health coverage in 2014 must pay $95 or 1% of their incomes, whichever is higher, as they file their 2014 taxes. The penalties will increase to $325 or 2% of individuals' incomes, whichever is higher, for those who do not have insurance in 2015.
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said that up to 600,000 Californians could face such penalties. The extension does not exempt individuals from 2014 penalties, but it can help them avoid larger penalties that begin in 2015.
The special enrollment period ends April 30 (California Healthline, 4/8).
The federal exchange on March 15 launched a special enrollment period, which also ends April 30 (California Healthline, 4/21).
California Special Enrollment Period Data
As of April 12, data show 22,659 individuals had enrolled in coverage through Covered California.
In comparison, the 36 states using the federal exchange have enrolled fewer than 2,000 people each as of April 13. Further, California's special enrollment period tally so far is equal to about 33% of HealthCare.gov's 68,000 sign-ups.
Covered California spokesperson Dana Howard said that California was one of the first states to launch a special enrollment period and has promoted it since then, which "seems to be paying off" (CNBC, 4/23).
Final Week of Special Enrollment Period
Meanwhile, Covered California officials are encouraging consumers to sign up for coverage during the last week of the special enrollment period by reminding them they can avoid future penalties, the Napa Valley Register reports.
Executive Director Peter Lee said, "If you didn't realize the tax consequences of not having insurance, it's not too late to enroll." He added, "You can enroll in a Covered California plan by April 30, which not only minimizes your tax burden but provides you and your family with affordable medical care you deserve when you need it" (Napa Valley Register, 4/23).
Regular Enrollment Period Data
In related news, Covered California has released county-level sign-up data for the second enrollment period that ran from Nov. 15, 2014, to Feb. 22. During that time period, 495,073 residents statewide enrolled in coverage (Covered California release , 4/21).
The data show that:
- 143,895 consumers in Los Angeles County selected health plans during that time period, accounting for about 29% of statewide enrollment (Covered California release , 4/20);
- 93,592 consumers in the nine-county San Francisco Bay area selected plans during the second enrollment period, accounting for about 19% of statewide enrollment (Covered California release, 4/16);
- 47,950 consumers in San Diego County selected health plans during the second enrollment period, accounting for about 10% of statewide enrollment (Covered California release, 4/17);
- 47,220 consumers in the two-county Inland Empire area selected health plans during the second enrollment period, accounting for about 9.5% of statewide enrollment (Covered California release , 4/20);
- 40,372 consumers in the nine-county Central Valley region selected health plans during the second enrollment period, accounting for about 8% of statewide enrollment (Covered California release , 4/21); and
- 30,509 consumers in the six-county Central Coast area selected health plans during the second enrollment period, accounting for about 6.4% of statewide enrollment (Covered California release , 4/21).