May 16, 2022

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Covered California urges uninsured residents to sign up for health coverage amid omicron surge

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — As the COVID-19 omicron variant continues to spread across the state, Covered California is urging uninsured and eligible individuals to act now to make sure they have comprehensive health care coverage for 2022.

Covered California’s first open-enrollment deadline is this week — California residents must sign up by Dec. 31 in order to have their health care coverage be effective Jan. 1.

“Covered California is urging everyone who needs coverage to check out their options and sign up, before the end of the month, so they can start the New Year with protection and peace of mind,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight the fact that life can indeed change in an instant. With the omicron variant surging across the state, every Californian should be sure to have coverage and take the needed steps to stay healthy and safe.”

Californian’s who sign up by Dec. 31, and pay their first bill, will have their coverage take effect on Jan. 1.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in California Average $127,000 for Complex Care

A national nonprofit group recently analyzed claims data across the country and examined cases of COVID-19 in which patients were admitted to the hospital and required ventilation or admission to the intensive care unit (ICU), which is much more likely to occur among the unvaccinated.

FAIR Health, which manages the nation’s largest database of privately billed health insurance claims, found that the average cost for a complex care COVID-19 hospitalization was $127,281 in California.

In cases where a patient needed to be hospitalized, but did not require ventilation or admission to the ICU — the average cost in California was $42,674, which is nearly identical to the average cost for Covered California enrollees who are admitted to hospitals for a variety of reasons.

For patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and received only outpatient care — which is much more likely for people who have been vaccinated and received their booster shot, the average cost in California was $1,334.

For those with insurance, only a small fraction is paid out-of-pocket by the consumer.

Table 1: COVID-19 Medical and Hospitalization Costs by State: California
Level of Care Average Estimated Allowed Amount
Complex Inpatient (Patient is admitted to the hospital and requires ventilation or admission to the intensive care unit [ICU]) $127,281
Non-complex Inpatient (Patient is admitted to the hospital but does not require ventilation or admission to the ICU) $42,674
Outpatient (Patient has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but does not require hospitalization) $1,334
Courtesy: Covered California.

“No one wants to end up in an emergency room or hospital for COVID-19 or any other reason, but if you do, a quality health insurance plan through Covered California can save you tens of thousands of dollars,” Lee said.

“In addition, having health insurance means you are more likely to get preventive care and regular treatment for chronic conditions, which helps keep you out of the hospital in the first place.”

1 Million Uninsured Californian’s

According to Covered California, an estimated 1.1 million Californians are uninsured and eligible for financial help.

The vast majority of uninsured residents, more than 940,000 people, are able to get coverage through either Covered California or Medi-Cal at no cost.

Courtesy: Covered California.

Check Eligibility and Options offered by Covered California

Those interested in applying for coverage can explore their options — and find out whether they are eligible for financial help — by using Covered California’s Shop and Compare Tool.

In addition to signing up consumers through its website, Covered California has also partnered with certified and licensed enrollers who provide free and confidential help throughout the state. 

Covered California said it works with more than 11,000 Licensed Insurance Agents, who have established more than 500 storefronts in communities across the state.

To find the nearest agent, click here.

Consumers can also call Covered California at (800) 300-1506 and get information or enroll by phone.

Covered California’s open-enrollment period runs through Jan. 31, 2022 — unlike the federal deadline, which is Jan. 15 for states that use healthcare.gov.

Consumers who sign up after Dec. 31 will have their coverage start on Feb. 1.