Covered California opens special enrollment for those losing federal health insurance subsidies

California
Two Los Angeles residents learn more about Covered California enrollment at a March 2014 event. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Two Los Angeles residents learn more about Covered California enrollment at a March 2014 event. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

With subsidized federal health insurance expiring this month, Covered California announced Wednesday it is opening special enrollment for Californians who are set to lose their coverage.

The enrollment period is meant to help Californians who were receiving health insurance through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA.

Thanks to a provision in the American Rescue Plan, many employees and their families who would have otherwise lost their group health coverage during the pandemic were allowed to temporarily continue their group health coverage.

Now, an estimated 138,000 Californians face significantly higher health insurance premiums when their federal COBRA subsidies expire Sept. 30, according to Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace.

Eligible Californians can choose to switch to Covered California to have new coverage for 2022. 

Covered California’s enrollment period for COBRA recipients runs through Nov. 29, 2021.  Those who sign up before the end of September will have their new coverage begin on Oct. 1.

“As California continues to grapple with the pandemic and its financial fallout, many COBRA recipients will find that financial help is critical to keeping their coverage, and that’s what Covered California offers,” said Peter V. Lee, a Covered California official.

Federal COBRA subsidies are not the only financial help Americans lose this month.

Four federal unemployment programs expired last weekend, with many Californians seeing their unemployment benefits ending or being reduced.

California officials have been encouraging unemployed residents who lost benefits to apply for other programs expanded by the American Rescue Plan. They include up to $234 per person per month in food assistance via CalFresh, rental and utility assistance from the Housing is Key program and health insurance through Covered California.

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