Now's the Time to Sign Up for Health Insurance

Published: October 30, 2015

Starting November 1, California residents who cannot get health insurance through their employer will be able to shop and enroll in a number of health insurance plans through Covered California, California's health benefit exchange.

WHA plans for 2016 will be among those available during Covered California’s open enrollment period. Whether you are currently uninsured or already enrolled in a Covered California plan, this open enrollment period is offered to all who are eligible for Covered California.

Coverage that you sign up for can become effective as of January 1, 2016. For coverage to be effective then, enrollment must be completed by December 15, 2015.

Open enrollment closes on Jan. 31, 2016. The open enrollment period will likely be the only time during the year you will be able to purchase or change plans, barring a major life change, such as the loss of a job or the birth of a child.

Covered California offers credits and subsidies to ensure coverage is affordable. Families and individuals who fall within certain income levels are eligible for premium tax credits used to lower the monthly payment of their insurance premiums. Some may even be eligible for assistance with out-of-pocket costs as well.

You’ll Pay if You Don’t Have Health Insurance
You must maintain health insurance coverage in order to avoid a tax penalty. The penalty is increasing in 2015 and 2016. You don’t have health insurance if you choose to pay the penalty.

If you didn’t have coverage in 2015, the penalty is $325 per uninsured adult (half that amount per child), up to $975 per family, or 2 percent of household income above the tax filing threshold (which could make the penalty more than $325 for an individual).

If you don’t have coverage in 2016, the penalty will be $695 per uninsured adult ($2,085 per family), or 2.5 percent of household income above the tax filing threshold.

WHA encourages those who can afford it to buy insurance this open enrollment season.