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California Waives Co-Pays For COVID-19 Tests, Opens Special Enrollment Period

A middle-aged white man in a black suit, blue tie and glasses is speaking and gesturing with his hands. He stands in front of a large sign that reads "Covered California."
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images)
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If you don’t have health insurance, now would be a good time to get on board.

In an effort to get more Californians covered during the coronavirus pandemic, state health officials say they're extending the enrollment period for everyone to June 30. If they have to, they'll extend it even further. That applies not only to Covered California but also to the entire individual health insurance market.

Enrollment for Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid for those with lower incomes, is already open year-round.


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Health officials also say they're waiving all co-pays for COVID-19 testing, no matter which insurance plan you're on, including employer-provided plans. That waiver extends to residents in the country illegally, a limited number of whom may be able to find coverage under Medi-Cal, they said. Currently immigrants without legal status may apply for Medi-Cal if they are under 26 or age 65 and over.

The news came in a press call featuring Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee, director of the Department of Health Care Services Dr. Bradley P. Gilbert, and California's Medicaid Director Jacey Cooper.

Lee said all medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19 is free of charge via telehealth, doctor's visits, and in-network emergency room or urgent visits, whether through Medi-Cal or the commercial market. Both Covered California and Medi-Cal can also help cover the costs associated with COVID-19 treatment, including hospitalization, he said.

The state is spending millions on an ad campaign to get the message out and to remind people that California has an individual mandate. There is a tax penalty for those who don't have insurance, said Lee.

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