By Megan Burks
The deadline to sign up for health insurance through the state’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, is March 31. Americans can sign up through a private insurance broker or health plan after that date, but cannot access government subsidies and may be subject to fines. Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans must have qualifying health coverage for at least nine months out of the year.
A survey out Monday shows the uninsured rate in the United States has dropped nearly two percentage points to 15.9 percent since the last quarter of 2013. Covered California spokeswoman Lizelda Lopez said Californians represent a significant portion of the drop, enrolling 1 in 5 of enrollees nationwide since open enrollment began in October. Lopez said San Diego has already surpassed state health administrators’ enrollment projections.
But California has faced challenges. Many still report long waits for assistance online and over the phone. Lopez said the best option for people trying to sign up for coverage in the final days of open enrollment is to get assistance in person. A list of certified insurance brokers and enrollment counselors is available by region on the Covered California website.
Medi-Cal enrollment is available year-around, but Lopez urged those who believe they’re eligible to sign up now so they can still access subsidies if they’re not.
KPBS’s Megan Burke, Maureen Cavanaugh and Peggy Pico contributed to this report.