For the media

It’s not too late to sign up for health insurance

By The Health News Team | March 4, 2020
Family of four

Covered California® recently extended and expanded their special enrollment period to offer individual health insurance coverage to all Californians as the state faces a surge in cases of COVID-19. This means consumers can enroll in health benefits through the end of June 2020.

"We want to get as many people covered as possible to ensure they have access to the health care they need," says Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. "Having more people insured is the right thing to do, and this action builds on our efforts to leave no one behind in California."

Californians without insurance face financial penalties
"Beginning January 2020,
California now requires all residents to have health insurance coverage," explains
Don Truong, director of sales at
Sharp Health Plan. "And now with the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring you and your loved ones have health insurance is really important."

Californians without coverage will face a new state tax penalty when they file their taxes with the California Franchise Tax Board in 2021. "The penalty can be more than $2,000 for a family of four," adds Truong. "So, it's a good idea for anyone who isn't already insured to take advantage of this special enrollment period."

Who qualifies for help under the new subsidy program
Covered California's new state subsidy program has expanded the amount of financial help available to many consumers.

  • Individuals making up to $74,940 a year

  • Families of four with a household income of up to $154,500

Covered California estimates that the average state subsidy for middle-income Californians — who up until now were not eligible for any assistance — is $504 per month.

"Even if you didn't qualify for financial help in the past, it's a good idea to
check again," adds Truong. "You may qualify for help through the new state subsidy program."

How to confirm eligibility and apply
Consumers who apply during this special enrollment period will receive a first of the month start date following their plan selection. If you
qualify for financial help, you'll want to apply through
Covered California's website. If you don't qualify for financial help, but still want to get insurance to avoid the new state tax penalty, then you can either apply through Covered California or directly through your health insurance provider of choice.

For coverage beginning on:

  • April 1, 2020, you must submit an application by March 31, 2020*

  • May 1, 2020, you must submit an application by April 30, 2020

  • June 1, 2020, you must submit an application by May 31, 2020

  • July 1, 2020, you must submit an application by June 30, 2020

*Last day to enroll and avoid a coverage-gap, state tax penalty.

"Even though you have until the end of June, don't wait too long to enroll," urges Truong. "Consumers who apply after March 31 will have to pay a coverage gap state tax penalty for the months that they were uninsured."

For more state tax penalty information, such as details on getting financial help, resources for estimating tax penalties and facts on qualifying exemptions, visit

This story was updated on March 24, 2020.

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