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Special Enrollment Period Extended for Covered California due to COVID-19

May enroll through December; more financial assistance available

A woman applying for health insurance over the phone and asking common questions about Covered California.

May enroll through December; more financial assistance available

Due to the COVID-19 national emergency, you can still sign up for a health insurance plan through Covered California through December 2021 — and you may be offered more financial assistance.

 

Covered California will provide more financial assistance thanks to the recently passed American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan provides new and expanded subsidies to Californians. The new law ensures that everyone eligible will pay no more than 8.5% of their income on their health premiums.

 

The new special enrollment period allows individuals to sign up for coverage through Covered California without experiencing a qualifying life event, such as moving or loss of insurance. Anyone who meets Covered California’s eligibility requirements can sign up for coverage through December, and coverage will begin on the first day of the following month they enroll.

 

Learn more about your options through Covered California, including physician network, prices, benefits and financial assistance available.

 

To help guide you in this process, check these commonly asked Covered California questions.

Q: Who can enroll in Covered California?

A: Residents of California who are US citizens or legal US citizens can apply for health insurance through Covered California .

Q. What is a special-enrollment period?

A: A special-enrollment period is also known as a qualifying event, such as loss of insurance coverage, marriage or birth of a baby or adoption of a child. When an individual experiences a qualifying event, they are able to sign up for health insurance outside of the open enrollment period. California has designated the coronavirus pandemic as a qualifying event.

Q: What health plans are available?

A: Throughout California, you have a choice of buying insurance from at least two but as many as six private insurance companies, depending on where you live. 


In San Diego County, Scripps accepts many health plans available directly through health insurance brokers and Covered California. Scripps Clinic and Scripps Coastal Medical Center doctors are in-network providers on the Health Net HMO CommunityCare, Blue Shield HMO Trio, Blue Shield PPO and Molina health insurance plans that Covered California offers. Not all providers are in all networks.


Health insurance plans are sold in four primary levels of coverage: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Plans vary. You have the option to pay more for your monthly premium and less when you use care or pay less for your monthly premium and more when you use care. In addition to these metal-tiered plans, a minimum coverage plan is available to people who qualify.

Q: What if I can’t afford the health insurance premiums or other costs?

A: Sliding-scale financial assistance is available if you cannot afford to pay the full cost of your premiums. Depending on your income and household size, you may qualify for government subsidies to help keep your out-of-pocket expenses down, including copayments, or tax credits to help reduce your monthly premiums if you cannot afford to pay for your full costs.


Californians with limited incomes may be eligible for Medi-Cal.

Q: What will my Covered California health insurance cover?

A: The Affordable Care Act requires that all newly purchased insurance plans, including those on Covered California, cover what is known as essential health benefits: doctor visits, hospitalization, emergency care, maternity care, pediatric care (including dental and visual coverage), preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, rehabilitative services, mental health and prescriptions.

 

Insurance companies cannot deny access or charge higher premiums if you have a pre-existing health condition or you become ill.


Dental and vision coverage for adults are offered separately from health insurance plans.

Q: Should I be concerned about rising premiums?

A: Health insurance premiums went up an average of 0.6% for 2021, according to Covered California officials — the smallest increase since the state exchange opened in 2014.


Covered California counselors strongly encourage consumers to shop around to find a plan that best suits them and their interest in a particular health care provider, the cost of premiums and the cost of out-of-pocket expenses related to care, such as deductibles.

Q: Where can I get help enrolling in Covered California?

A: You may enroll for health coverage through Covered California online, by phone or in person with free assistance from a certified enroller. Covered California’s website provides links to certified counselors and insurance brokers trained in Covered California insurance plans as well as county offices where you can go for help. Visit the Covered California website: www.coveredca.com or call (800) 300-1506.