So you've signed up for health insurance. Now what?

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73169 full

If you're among the estimated 400,000-plus Californians who've already signed up for insurance through the state-run marketplace called Covered California, you have a couple more important dates to remember.

Covering California series icon 2013

The bill for the first month's premium should be in your mailbox by January 1st, says Ann Newton, spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Plans. If yours doesn't arrive on time, call your insurance broker or the insurance company to find out where it is. Paying it on time, Newton says, is essential to having coverage that's retroactive to Jan. 1st. 

"So it’s important that they make that first payment by January 6th and it needs to be submitted directly to the health plan, not covered California," Newton says, adding that most health plans will accept payment by phone. 

A glut of last-minute sign-ups to meet the deadline for coverage that begins on January 1st is likely to create a backlog as insurers process the applications, says Susie Fabrocini, a licensed insurance broker who is certified by Covered California to sell plans on the state-run marketplace.

But, Fabrocini says, there's no sense in worrying about your bill during the holidays. 

"Almost nobody has heard from their insurance companies yet," she says. "They’re probably fine, but wait until after the holidays to start being concerned."

So if you haven't received your bill by Jan. 1st, you should definitely call your insurance company on Jan. 2nd.

Anne Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Covered California agrees that now is too soon for consumers to take action, as the insurance companies may not yet have their enrollment information. 

 "Covered California may be in the process of submitting enrollments to the companies, and then the companies themselves need to process the enrollment," Gonzales said in an email response to questions by KPCC.

Gonzales says consumers who signed up online can check their enrollment status at any time by logging into their account or by calling the Covered California service center. 

"We are asking consumers to be patient," Gonzales said in an email response to questions from KPCC. "This is all a new process for everyone."

Customers who signed up for insurance by Dec. 23 should receive their first bill received  by Jan. 1, 2014. The bill must be paid by Jan. 6, 2014 for coverage that is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014. 

For those who still need to sign up, here's a timetable of upcoming deadlines:


Sign up between Coverage begins
Dec. 24th - Jan. 15 February 1, 2013
Jan. 16 - Feb. 15 March 1, 2013
Feb. 16 - March 15 April 1, 2013
March 16 - March 31 May 1, 2013

Source: California Association of Health Plans

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