Suzanne Potter / California News Service
LOS ANGELES – If you want to sign up for health insurance and get help paying for it you only have until Sunday to get it done. The healthcare marketplace’s annual open enrollment period closes Jan. 31 and won’t reopen until the fall. If you don’t have insurance, there’s a penalty of about $700 per person at tax time.
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, says despite massive outreach and marketing efforts, there are still people who haven’t explored their options.
“People know there is a penalty. But over one-third of those eligible for subsidies that are uninsured do not know subsidies are available,” says Lee. “That’s a remarkable gap, given all we’ve done.”
It’s estimated 11 percent of Californians are uninsured, a figure seven percent lower than before the Affordable Care Act took effect two years ago. That works out to an additional 1.3 million people in the Golden State who now have health insurance.
Lee suspects the penalty will motivate some procrastinators but points out there’s a lot more at stake.
“The bigger penalty is the risk of going without coverage and showing up at the ER and walking out with a $30,000 bill,” says Lee. “Or the penalty of having a cancer go undiagnosed.”
To sign up for health insurance through the marketplace, or find a trained navigator who can help you with the signup process, look online at coveredCA.com.