Covered California Deadline has been extended…

California’s health insurance exchange extended its deadline for consumers who want Obamacare coverage in effect beginning Jan. 1.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said people who start the application process or made some “good faith effort” by Monday will have until Dec. 21 to finish signing up. Monday at midnight was the original deadline.

“We are providing this window to get people across the finish line,” Lee said at an exchange board meeting Monday. “We know many of the people applying have never had insurance before, and these are individuals who need to sit down and talk with someone.”

Lee said many insurance agents and enrollment counselors were fully booked with applicants Monday. He said the deadline extension will enable consumers to get help or make an appointment through Dec. 21.

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Covered California deadline looms

By Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star, Calif.
Tribune Content Agency

Dec. 07–Covered California’s first deadline falls at the stroke of midnight Dec. 15.

People who meet the cutoff and enroll in a health insurance plan will have coverage effective New Year’s Day. People who are already insured through Covered California but changing plans should have seamless coverage if they act before midnight.

People who instead follow Cinderella’s lead will have to enroll by Jan. 15 to have coverage that begins Feb. 1. People who don’t enroll by Feb. 15, the end of open enrollment, could have to wait another year.

A so-called passive renewal system means people who want to stay in their existing plan without changes don’t have to do anything.

Covered California is the health insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. Leaders of the program predict 500,000 people will enroll this year, joining the 1.2 million people who signed up during the first enrollment season that began last year.

Deadlines in the first go-round brought a tsunami of last-minute sign ups, triggering marathon duels with automated phone systems and website snarls that pushed more people to the phones.

Covered California leaders are not predicting a headache-free cruise through the deadline this time around. But they think things will be better.

“We expect a lot of people to wait for the last minute to come in,” said spokesmanRoy Kennedy. “We expect Dec. 14-15 to be heavy periods of enrollment.”


People who want coverage on Jan. 1 need to act by midnight Dec. 15 unless they’re staying in their existing plans. For more information go or try the following:

Out-of-Pocket Maximums & Copayments -The Basics

Your Annual Out-of-Pocket Maximum – The Maximum Amount You Will Pay Each Year

Your annual out-of-pocket maximum is the absolute maximum amount of money you will pay for covered services during a year. One you reach your annual out-of-pocket
maximum, your health insurance plan covers your medical costs at 100 percent.

Your Copayment- The Cost of a Doctor Visit or Pharmacy Item

Your co-payments (or copays) are set dollar amounts you to your medical providers for specific covered services. The most common types of copay’s are doctors
visit copays and pharmacy copays. For example, you may make a $30 copay for  each covered visit to your pharmacy copays. For example, you may make a $30 copay
for each covered visit to your primary care provider. Often, copay are capped at
a certain number of uses per year.

Annual Deductible & Coinsurance – The Basics

Over the next few weeks we will go over “The Basics” terms in insurance. So you will have the ability to shop and compare different options, especially when getting new health insurance. Today’s terms is Annual Deductible and Coinsurance.

Your Annual Deductible –  The Amount you Pay before your Coinsurance Kicks In.

Your annual deductible is the amount you must pay for covered care each year before your health insurance begins to pay. For example, a $2000 deductible will require you to pay $2,000 out-of-pocket for covered services before insurance company pays.

Your Coinsurance – The Amount You Pay after Deductible

Your coinsurance is the percentage of medical cost you are required to pay after  your annual deductible is met. For example, the health insurance plan may cover 80% of charges for a covered surgery, leaving you responsible for the other 20%. The 20 percent you must pay is called the coinsurnace

Tomorrow we will cover “Out-of-Pocket Maximums”

Health & Medicalhealth insurance Photo

5 Social Security changes coming in 2015

Social Security recipients will receive 1.7 percent bigger checks in 2015, the Social Security Administration announced last week. And some groups of workers will begin receiving benefit statements in the mail with a list of taxes paid and an estimate of their future retirement benefit. Here’s a look at the new Social Security benefits, taxes and services workers and retirees will experience in 2015:

Bigger payments. The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment is expected to result in the typical retiree getting about $22 more per month. This change will increase the average monthly benefit for retired workers in January 2015 from $1,306 before the cost-of-living adjustment to $1,328 after. The average benefit for retired couples who are both receiving benefits is projected to increase by $36 to $2,176 per month.

Social Security payments are automatically adjusted each year to keep up with inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Previous cost-of-living adjustments have ranged from zero in 2010 and 2011 to 14.3 percent in 1980. The 1.7 percent increase retirees will receive in January is similar to the 1.5 percent adjustment for 2014 and 1.7 percent increase in 2013.

Higher tax cap. Most workers pay 6.2 percent of every paycheck into the Social Security system until their earnings exceed the tax cap. The maximum taxable earnings will increase next year from $117,000 in 2014 to $118,500 in 2015. About 10 million of the 168 million workers who pay into Social Security are expected to face higher taxes as a result of this change. People who earn more than the taxable maximum do not pay Social Security taxes on that amount or have those earnings factored into their future Social Security payments.

Larger earnings limits. Social Security beneficiaries who are under age 66 can earn as much as $15,720 in 2015, before $1 in benefits will be withheld for every $2 earned above the limit. Retirees who will turn 66 in 2015 and have signed up for Social Security can earn up to $41,880 before every $3 earned above the limit will result in one benefit dollar being withheld. However, once a retiree turns age 66 there is no limit on earnings and Social Security payments are recalculated to give the retiree credit for the withheld benefits.

Your statement might be in the mail. If you will turn age 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 or 60 next year and don’t have a Social Security online account, you can expect to receive a paper Social Security statement that lists your earnings history, taxes paid and expected benefit about 3 months before your birthday. And after age 60 workers will receive a statement annually.

The SSA expects to send nearly 48 million Social Security statements each year. These mailings, which were sent annually to all workers age 25 and older between 1999 and 2011, were suspended in April 2011 to save money.

Statements are also available online at any time via, and 14 million people have created personalized accounts using this service.

The maximum benefit increases. The maximum possible Social Security payment for a worker who signs up at full retirement age will be $2,663 per month in 2015, up $21 from $2,642 in 2014.

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