By Lisa Aliferis and April Dembosky
Because of what it termed a "dramatic spike" in traffic, Covered California announced late Monday that it would extend the March 31 deadline to enroll in a health insurance plan. But the extension has certain limitations.
- Anyone who has not been able to get on the website for technical reason can apply in person or through the Covered California call center by April 15
- Anyone who starts an application by midnight Monday (March 31) has until April 15 to finish, either online or in person (this was previously announced)
- Anyone who is filing a paper application must mail it today; it must be postmarked March 31 -- but Covered California strongly encourages people to apply in person as opposed to mailing your application
For consumers who complete an application and select a plan by 11:59pm April 15, insurance will take effect May 1.
People are on the honor system when they say that they had experienced difficulty. "People can lie. We think people won't. We think Californians are honest people," Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said in a call with reporters.
But he said there are few downsides to people being dishonest. "The harm would be an individual getting coverage that would not have gotten health coverage."
In a release, Covered California said that between midnight and 2:30pm Monday, some 324,000 "unique visitors" came to CoveredCA.com -- with more than 5.7 million pages viewed.
By comparison, on Dec. 23, 2013 -- the deadline to select a plan that took effect Jan. 1 -- visitors to the website viewed more than 1.9 million pages.
Not surprisingly, Covered California says the traffic Monday is a record.
For anyone reading this who wants to apply, but has not been able to start an application, to "apply in person," you must talk to one of the following:
- Certified Enrollment Counselor
- Certified Insurance Agent
- An eligibility worker at a county office
- A health insurance plan (you can call a plan directly, and they are authorized to sell you a subsidized plan. This is called "plan-based enrollment.")
- The Covered California call center -- (800) 300-1506
To find a counselor, certified agent or county office near you, visit CoveredCA.com and click on the yellow button in the middle of the page that says "Find Local Help."
There is no charge to work with anyone certified to work on Covered California plans. Certified Insurance Agents are professional insurance brokers whose commissions are paid by the health insurance companies, not by the consumer receiving help.