Covered California Extends Deadline for Jan. 1 Coverage
Covered California has extended by nearly a week the deadline for consumers to enroll in health coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2015, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Details of Extension
Consumers now have until Dec. 21 to sign up for coverage that begins at the start of next year. The original deadline was Dec. 15.
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said, "We are providing this window to get people across the finish line." He added, "We know many of the people applying have never had insurance before, and these are individuals who need to sit down and talk with someone."
Lee noted that the extension also was granted in light of many insurance agents and enrollment counselors being completely booked with appointments by those looking to sign up for a health plan.
According to the Times, the deadline extension signals high consumer interest. However, the extension also could be the result of problems with the exchange's website and call centers, the Times reports. Specifically, wait times last week for the call center averaged 18 minutes, while 32% of callers dropped their call, according to the Times.
However, Lee noted that while 18 minutes "is not what we are working for," he expects service to improve as more staff members are added, and he "feel[s] good about the progress" being made.
Changes to Covered California Board
Meanwhile, Diana Dooley, chair of the exchange and California HHS secretary, has announced several changes to Covered California's board, according to the Times.
- Board member Robert Ross, CEO of the California Endowment, will step down Dec. 31 so that the new Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D) can appoint a new director; and
- The terms of board members Susan Kennedy and Kim Belshé are set to expire, and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) will decide whether to reappoint them or name replacements (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 12/15).
Board To Discuss Lack of Insurers
In related news, the exchange's board of directors is expected to discuss a shortage of insurers in certain areas across Northern California, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reports.
According to "KXJZ News," about 10% of consumers who enrolled in coverage last year have only one or two insurers from which to choose. The lack of insurer options has affected several areas including:
- Alameda County;
- Monterrey; and
- San Luis Obispo.
The board members are expected to discuss adding more insurers for 2016, according to "KXJZ" (Bartolone, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 12/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.