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Strong Numbers for Open Enrollment

On Wednesday, Covered California officials announced preliminary application numbers for the opening weeks of its enrollment period. The numbers were strong.

About 290,000 Californians filled out applications for exchange coverage since Covered California’s second open enrollment period started Nov. 15. About160,000 of those applications were found likely eligible for Medi-Cal and filled out those applications. Those numbers were amassed in less than three weeks between Nov. 15 and Dec. 2.

Exchange officials said they expect strong interest to continue through Dec. 15 — the deadline for consumers to finalize enrollment so their coverage can begin Jan. 1.

Covered California’s enrollment period remains open till Feb. 15.

According to Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the strong showing not only reflects high demand for coverage but also shows the exchange’s outreach program has worked, because so many consumers were aware of the Nov. 15 start date. 

“Last year was historic. We knew there was a lot of pent-up demand for coverage,” Lee said. “This year, we’re seeing very strong interest, strong demand, but this [strong response] is also showing the success of from-the-ground-up outreach effort.”

Lee said the enrollment effort has been smoother and easier than last year, without the computer issues that dogged the opening last year. Exchange officials expect about 700,000 sign-ups during this enrollment period, in addition to the million Californians who signed up last year and are up for renewal.

For more information on issues with Covered California renewals, see today’s new story.

“The importance of announcing the good news now is that it’s just a few days before Dec. 15,” Lee said.

Lee said he will present updated enrollment numbers at the upcoming Covered California board meeting, also on Dec. 15.  

Renewal numbers will not be known till January, Lee said.

Medi-Cal enrollment is open all year, but Medi-Cal application numbers spiked during the exchange’s open enrollment period.

According to Toby Douglas, director of the Department of Health Care Services, which oversees Medi-Cal, the department had more than 160,000 applications during the opening few weeks of the exchange’s enrollment period.

About 75% of those applicants now are enrolled in Medi-Cal, Douglas said — with 116,262 enrollments into Medi-Cal coverage and another 44,295 still in the process of eligibility determination.

“We’re seeing such great numbers here,” Douglas said. “We will work in the months ahead to go through the process in a streamlined way and get people into coverage.”

Related Topics

Capitol Desk Covered California Medi-Cal