Covered California Enrollment Tops 865,000 People

California continues to lead all states in sign-ups for Affordable Care Act coverage. According to data released Tuesday, nearly 870,000 people have enrolled in plans on Covered California through the end of February. Enrollment is expected to surge, since March 31st is the last day to sign up for health coverage for this year and avoid a penalty.

KQED’s health editor Lisa Aliferis joined host Mina Kim to answer some of the most frequent Obamacare questions she receives, including what happens if you’re uninsured and you miss that March 31st deadline?

The penalty is either $95 or 1 percent of income — whichever is greater. Many people are focused on the $95 penalty, but, for example, if your income is $40,000, then you’re looking at a roughly $400 penalty. In addition, if your income is $40,000, you are within the eligibility guidelines to get a subsidy to buy health insurance.

Sign-ups of young, healthy people continue to be the holy grail of the Affordable Care Act because they offset the costs of covering older or sicker people. President Obama was even willing to subject himself to the antics of comedian Zach Galifianakis on the online show Between Two Ferns because it’s popular with young people. (His appearance seems to have had an impact; healthcare.gov traffic was up 40 percent yesterday, according to the White House.)

Here’s the video, in case you missed it:

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About 26 percent of enrollees on Covered California are in the 18-to-34 age group? While that mirrors their representation in the population, it is short of their representation in the uninsured pool. Nearly 38 percent of the uninsured are in this young adult age group. Still, a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation said even if their enrollment does not meet that mark, it would probably only mean a slight increase in premiums for next year.

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