At the end of last month, it was calculated that over 161,670 people had signed up for 2024 coverage, marking an 18 percent increase over the same period last year and the highest during this same period in four years. The deadline to apply for health insurance through Covered California is January 31st. (Courtesy photo)

The window for Covered California and Medi-Cal’s open enrollment is soon closing. The three-month cycle opened on Nov. 1, and the deadline for signing up is Jan. 31. California residents who do not have health insurance can apply for coverage easily on the website at

Applicants simply need to supply their tax information from 2023 and fill out the online form. Options are provided immediately, and residents of Los Angeles have more options to choose from than individuals residing anywhere else in the state of California.

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“Two thirds of our current 1.6 million enrollees are eligible for a plan costing ten dollars or less per month, so it doesn’t make sense not to have health insurance in this climate,” said Jagdip Dhillon, information officer for Covered California.

With the deadline one week away, Californians should act fast.

The consequence of not doing so is a tax penalty, which kicks in if a resident is eligible and doesn’t have coverage. At the end of the year, the tax board determines the amount, which is based on a sliding scale.

Uninsured California residents will pay $900 per adult or more and $450 per child, or 2.5% of their gross income over the filing threshold for their filing status, whichever is higher. For a family of four, that could mean $2,700 for the year.

Applying outside of the open enrollment window is only possible for those experiencing a qualifying life event. Examples include, but are not limited, to losing job-based insurance, having a baby, getting married, or moving from one region to another. These and other exceptions are listed on the Covered California website.

Also viewable at the site is a vast network of agencies that offer assistance free of charge should applicants want help with the process of applying.

“There are 14,000 throughout the state,” said Dhillon. “These are certified agents who had to go through a training process specifically for this purpose. Applicants can find them using the Agent Finder on the website.”

Many Californians underwent a challenging transition last year as protections set in place during the peak of the pandemic were terminated. According to a KFF study of what has been termed the “unwinding” of the continuous enrollment provision, at least 15,755,00 Medicaid enrollees were disenrolled nationwide as of Jan. 22, 2024, and this included 1.1 Million in California.

“One of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the country is a health scare,” said Dhillon. “Our goal is to make sure every California resident has insurance.”

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