Covered California says it will clear paper application backlog by Monday deadline

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Covering California series icon 2013

California’s health insurance exchange says it expects to meet its Monday deadline to process a backlog of paper applications for new coverage. It also says the backlog wasn’t as big as previously thought and is now down to less than 12,000.

Last week Covered California said it had 25,000 paper applications to enter into its online system by Dec. 23, the last day to submit applications for private coverage that takes effect Jan. 1.

On Wednesday, James Scullary, an agency spokesman, said that number was closer to 17,000.

He said some of the 25,000 paper submissions turned out to be applications for Medi-Cal, which do not have to meet the Dec. 23 deadline. Others were supporting documents for pending applications, such as proof of residency, Scullary said.

Consumers, independent insurance agents and others had expressed concern recently that Covered California would not be able to clear the backlog by Dec. 23, potentially leaving thousands of applicants without health coverage come the new year.

Scullary said Covered California is confident it will process all of the remaining applications by Monday. He said that as of Wednesday morning, agency staff had processed about 5,500 of the 17,000 paper applications and sent information about those applications to insurance companies.

"And we expect to have the remainder of those applications keyed in by Dec. 23 so enrollees can have coverage by Jan. 1," Scullary said.

He said the agency is processing applications at a rate of "hundreds per hour."

Scullary said people who sent in a paper application can call Covered California to check on its status. They'll still have to get final confirmation from their insurance company and pay their first premium before their coverage kicks in. 

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