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California Extends Deadline for 2021 Health Insurance Through Affordable Care Act

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The deadline for open enrollment for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act is Dec. 15. (JESHOOTS/Pexels)

This post was updated 11 a.m. Dec. 16

Are you hoping to sign up for 2021 health insurance through the Affordable Care Act? The deadline to enroll for California coverage that starts Jan. 1 has now been extended — to Dec. 30.

"Californians need health coverage more than ever and that's why we just extended our open enrollment period for Covered California," said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a video posted to Twitter announcing the extension.

Healthcare.gov is the national marketplace for health coverage, and if you live in California, the site will redirect you to Covered California's site to sign up for your coverage. The Healthcare.gov deadline was previously Dec. 15, and remains as such almost all other states.

To compare the cost of coverage plans available through the ACA, and to begin an application, visit Healthcare.gov's "tips to get started" page.

Am I Eligible for ACA Coverage?

Obtaining coverage through the ACA's health insurance marketplace – also commonly known as Obamacare – is intended as an option for people who won't receive coverage starting Jan. 1, 2021 through their employer, or through programs like Medicaid, Medicare or the Children's Health Insurance Program. Coverage via ACA plans sold during open enrollment takes effect Jan. 1.

To be eligible for health coverage through the ACA's marketplace, you must be a United States resident who's either a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or is lawfully present in the country. (Read more about eligible immigration statuses).

People with Medicare coverage are not eligible for health or dental plans through the ACA. Incarcerated people also do not qualify for coverage. Preexisting conditions like cancer or diabetes do not disqualify applicants, and insurance companies in the ACA marketplace cannot refuse to cover their treatment or charge more to do so.

For more about the timeline for coverage, how the marketplace works and requirements for applying, Healthcare.gov offers this quick overview of the ACA system.

What if I Miss the New Dec. 30 Deadline?

Dec. 30 is the Covered California deadline to buy health coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2021 — but the open enrollment period is active through Jan. 31, 2021. This means you could miss the Dec. 30 deadline and still sign up for coverage that would start on Feb. 1.

If you don't enroll in time to make the Dec. 30 deadline, and miss the Jan. 31 open enrollment deadline too, you might still be eligible for what's called a special enrollment period.

This may allow you to enroll if you've had a change in your household (like getting married, getting divorced or having a baby), a change in where you live, or you lose your qualifying health insurance (for example, because you lost your job.)

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If you already signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and want to make changes to the plan you bought, qualifying for a special enrollment period is the only way you'll be able to do so. Find out more about the special enrollment period.

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