Covered California is extending the deadline to sign up for 2017 health coverage that takes effect Jan. 1 by two more days until midnight Monday, the state health insurance exchange said Friday.
Earlier this week Covered California had extended the original deadline from Thursday to midnight Saturday. The exchange said it's pushing it back again to align with the midnight Monday deadline the federal government announced for states that use the healthcare.gov exchange.
Covered California expressed hope in a statement that this move "will reduce any confusion that consumers may experience after hearing yesterday’s federal announcement, and give consumers the time they need to sign up for coverage."
The exchange's website will be down for a regularly planned upgrade Sunday night, Covered California said. The system will be unavailable to consumers from 7 p.m. Sunday until 7 a.m. Monday.
More than 67,000 new consumers have signed up for health coverage through the exchange's website or with a certified enrollment agent over the past four days, it said.
During the same four-day period last year, 62,000 consumers enrolled, according to Covered California.
The latest numbers mean that more than 196,000 consumers have signed up since the current open-enrollment period began Nov. 1, said the exchange.
In telling KPCC about the initial deadline extension on Wednesday, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said, "many of our insurance agents are saying their stores are full—they’re booked."
The exchange's call centers have handled "tens of thousands of people, but about 20 percent of them couldn’t get through," he said. "Our responsibility is to keep the doors open as long as we can so that people have coverage January 1."
Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31; after Saturday, those signing up by Jan. 15 will have their coverage begin Feb. 1. People enrolling between Jan. 16-31 won't have coverage until March 1.
People looking for private insurance can go to the Covered California website, which helps customers determine if they're eligible for federal subsidies, shop for a plan, and enroll. For those who want to sign up in person, the site directs them to insurance brokers or certified enrollment counselors near where they live.