Deadline for Covered California applications nears

Monday is the deadline to sign up for private health insurance in the new online markets created by President Barack Obama's health care law.
March 30, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Monday is the deadline to sign up for private health insurance in the new online markets created by President Barack Obama's health care law. About 4 out of every 5 people enrolling have qualified for tax credits to reduce the cost of their premiums.

So far, 1.1 million people in the state have signed up for health care through Covered California. That's out of the three million Californians who qualify for Obamacare and are without insurance.

With time running out to enroll, many folks in the Bay Area are still confused and frustrated about signing up for Obamacare.

There is a grace period after you sign up, but you have to start the enrollment process by Monday or face a fine.

"I'm like freaking out because all my friends have health insurance and I don't," San Francisco resident Maria Judice said.

She wants health coverage, but has had problems signing up through Covered California's website.

"They actually don't even identify me as a person right now, which is really difficult and I've been doing this for two months," Judice said.

"There is no extension on this deadline. Folks have to create an account and they have to make a real serious effort in getting their applications started, so they could be time stamped and then they can get an additional two weeks until April 15 to complete that application," Covered California spokesperson Dana Howard said.

However, if you miss the enrollment deadline you could pay a tax penalty of $95.

San Rafael resident and sound technician Dan Mcgonagle finished his enrollment days ago and will soon have insurance.

"I'm looking to get back into playing ice hockey again because I literally was not playing ice hockey because I was afraid of getting hurt," Mcgonagle said.

"I haven't even seen what the health plans are," Judice said. "I am a little frustrated."

ABC7 News asked Covered California what Judice and others who may be having trouble with online enrollment should do. They say by clicking on "find local help" on Covered California's website, a certified counselor will walk you through the process, over the phone, for free.

Here is some additional information with what you need to know:

- The deadline is Mar. 31 at midnight EDT for the states where the federal government is running the sign-up website; states running their own exchanges set their own deadlines.

- You can sign up online by going to HealthCare.gov or your state insurance exchange. If you don't know what your state marketplace is called, HealthCare.gov will direct you.

-You can call 1-800-318-2596 to sign up by phone or get help from an enrollment specialist.

-Check online for sign-up centers that may be open locally, offering in-person assistance.

You can also get help signing up for health insurance at several Bay Area workshops on Monday. There'll be events in:

Sunnyvale: Our Daily Bread, 231 Sunset Avenue (8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.)

Berkeley: Berkeley City College, 2050 Center Street (10 a.m. - 1 p.m.)

Oakland: Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 Ninth Street (2 p.m. ? 7 p.m.)

Dublin: Dublin Library, 200 Civic Plaza (1 p.m. ? 4 p.m.)

San Francisco: 3175 17th Street (11 a.m. ? noon)

If you're going, here's what to bring: your photo ID, proof of address, proof of U.S. citizenship, and either a recent paystub or tax filing.

The Associated Press contributed to this stoty.


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