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With Covered California Deadline Approaching, Officials Urge Enrollment To Avoid Penalty

Diana Aguilera
Valley Public Radio

With the second enrollment period of Covered California coming to an end, state officials are making their last rounds encouraging more residents to sign up and avoid a tax penalty.

There’s about 275,000 Californians who have recently signed up for a health insurance plan through Covered California. But now people have less than two weeks to enroll as the February  15 open enrollment deadline approaches. Those who miss the date, could face a tax penalty.

Executive Director Peter Lee made a stop in Fresno Wednesday afternoon at an insurance exchange office.

“While the majority of Californians know there’s a tax penalty it’s looming in the distance,” Lee says.

He says the tax fine for being uninsured is $95 per person or 1 percent of income, whichever is greatest. Next year, it will go up to $325 or 2 percent of income.

But with the deadline coming soon Lee says they’re expecting an even larger crowd to sign up.

“We think there’s going to be a lot of enrollment in the next two weeks. People are starting to look at their taxes and all of a sudden there going to look at this form that says penalty, what is that?”

As of the end of January, about 4,600 Fresno County residents have signed up during the second enrollment period.

Covered California officials revealed enrollment numbers for those who signed up during this year’s open enrollment period for the following counties:

Fresno County: 4,600

Kern County: 4,100

Madera County: 900

Merced County: 1,800

Tulare County: 2,400

Kings County: 500

Diana Aguilera is a multimedia reporter native of Santiago, Chile. It was during her childhood in Santiago where her love for journalism sparked. Diana moved to Fresno while in her teens and is a proud graduate of California State University, Fresno. While earning her degree in journalism and minor in Latin American studies, Diana worked for the Fresno Bee. Her work as a general assignment reporter continued after college and was recognized by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. In 2014, she joined Valley Public Radio. Her hobbies include yoga, traveling and reading.
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