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Covered CA expands special enrollment; Medi-Cal seeks waivers to foster coverage

March 23, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health Access to Care 


Covered California has extended its enrollment window through the end of June because of the widespread disruption in the lives and livelihoods of Californians as our state’s public health officials seek to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“We want to get as many people covered as possible to ensure they have access to the health care they need,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Having more people insured is the right thing to do, and this action builds on our efforts to leave no one behind in California.”

Individuals who sign up through Covered California will have access to private health insurance plans with monthly premiums that may be lowered due to federal and new state financial assistance that became effective in January 2020. After selecting a plan, coverage would begin on the first of the following month — meaning individuals losing job-based coverage will not face a gap in coverage.

Additionally, consumers who sign up through CoveredCA.com may find out that they are eligible for no-cost or low-cost coverage through Medi-Cal, which they can enroll in online. Those eligible for Medi-Cal can have coverage that is immediately effective.

To free up resources for the expected surge of new enrollees, California has put a 90-day hold on Medi-Cal renewal reviews, meaning that those already enrolled can continue their coverage through this time. The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) also is seeking expanded authority to expedite enrollment for seniors and other vulnerable populations, expand the use of telehealth and take other steps to make care easier to access.

To aid in this process, the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) and the California Department of Insurance will provide guidance to health plans on the special-enrollment period, which will also include off-exchange health plans. This will ensure consumers enrolling in the entire individual market in California will have access to coverage during the pandemic emergency.

In addition to the enrollment extension, new state subsidies might be able to help low- and middle-income Californians who sign up for coverage by significantly decreasing the cost of their monthly premiums to ensure that health care is more affordable through these trying times.

Consumers can easily find out if they are eligible Medi-Cal or other forms of financial help and see which plans are available in their area by using the CoveredCA.Com Shop and Compare Tool and entering their ZIP code, household income and the ages of those who need coverage.

Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can also call Covered California at (800) 300-1506. Free and confidential assistance is available in a variety of languages.

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