The deadline to enroll for health care coverage through Covered California is Tuesday, Jan. 15, and its executive director, Peter V. Lee, will be riding a bus through Southern California to spread awareness about the importance of getting health insurance.
Lee said the number of people buying insurance through Covered California has dropped, with enrollment down about 10 percent from last year, largely because Congress did away with the individual mandate requiring everyone to purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
“A vast majority of people are still signing up,” Lee said. “On the margin, some healthy people are thinking about rolling the dice and seeing what happens.”
But, he said, that could be a risky move.
“You don’t plan to break your shoulder or get cancer,” Lee said. “That always comes as a surprise.”
Open enrollment is a three-month period for Californians to enroll in health care coverage. There are more than 16,000 certified insurance agents who provide free counseling and assistance for those who wish to purchase insurance through Covered California.
Lee said Covered California’s website, coveredca.com, will allow people to enroll through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, in 2017 there were about 1.1 million people in the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim areas who were uninsured, about 468,000 of whom were eligible for coverage.
One of the reasons health care costs climbed this year is the loss of the individual mandate. Governor Gavin Newsom said soon after taking office this week that he plans to reinstate the individual mandate and a tax penalty in California.
“I was impressed with (Newsom’s) courage in proposing new subsidies in addition to the tax penalty,” Lee said. “That’s how you lower health care costs for everybody. His proposals show a lot of leadership and depth of understanding as to how health care works.”
Deadline to enroll for health care coverage in California is Tuesday