2 Covered California deadlines: One to pay, one to enroll

Reed Saxon/AP

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Wednesday marks two important deadlines for customers or soon-to-be customers of the state's health insurance exchange, Covered California.

Covering California series icon 2013The first is for people who met the December 27th cutoff to enroll in coverage that starts January 1st. Wednesday is the last day to pay the first month's premium.

Because of delays in processing applications, insurance companies agreed to extend coverage back to Jan. 1st as long as they received the first payment by Jan. 15th.

But many customers have reported delays in receiving their first bill. Because of that, insurers will be willing to work with people who miss the payment deadline but can prove they made a "good faith effort" to pay on time, according to Nicole Evans, spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Plans.

Wednesday's second deadline is for people who have not yet signed up for coverage. It's the last day to sign up for a plan that begins on Feb. 1st. If you sign up between Jan. 16th and Feb. 15th,  your plan won't take effect until March 1st.

The same formula will apply through the end of open enrollment on March 31st. Sign up by March 15th, and your coverage will start on April 1st.  Sign up between March 16th and March 31st, and it won’t begin until May 1st. 

Except for those who qualify for an exemption, people who fail to buy health insurance will face a tax penalty.