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Edit 4/1/2014: Covered California altered the deadline. Please read my latest blog post on the April 15 deadline.

Many of you may have seen national news reports to the effect that the deadline for enrolling in qualified and (depending upon your eligibility) subsidized health insurance plans has been extended from 
March 31 to April 15. But Californians should be aware that Covered California, which manages the California health exchange, has taken a somewhat more restricted view. On Wednesday, March 26 Covered California announced that:

"Covered California is NOT EXTENDING its deadline for applying for a health plan. However, we've committed to helping all those who started an online application to cross the finish line." (Emphasis added).

Covered California went on to clarify that so long as a consumer starts an online application by 11:59 pm on March 31, he or she will have until 11:59 pm on April 15 to complete the application and select a plan. In other words, so long as an online  application is begun by the current deadline of March 31, Californians will have an additional 15 days to complete the process.

Covered California has provided very specific guidelines as to what the consumer must do to qualify for this extension. The consumer must take at least the following steps:

     1.  By 11:59 pm on March 31, you must (a) create on online account; (b) fill out all required information on the "Apply for Benefits" page (the page contains two required fields) and click "Continue;" and (c) on the following "Consent for Verification" page click on "Save and Edit" or "Continue."

     2.  By 11:59 pm on April 15, you must return to your online account to complete the application and select a plan.

Note that this extension is available  only to those using Covered California's online application. If you are applying by mail, your completed application still must be postmarked by March 31.

Human nature being what it is, many qualified Californians have waited until the last few weeks to submit applications. Crowded servers have caused online delays. By this point I have become a familiar navigator of the online application process, but even so I have experienced increased delays and frustrations in recent weeks. For these reasons, Covered California's extension of the current deadline is a welcome and helpful gesture. But delays and frustrations will continue to be the norm. So I urge you: don't risk missing out on coverage and don't risk tax penalties  for failure to obtain timely coverage. Start your application now. If you need assistance, please give me a call. 
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