Tablets Spilling Out of a Roll of Hundred Dollar BillsOpen Enrollment for Covered California health insurance – or “Obamacare” as it is commonly called – began October 1, 2013. Though the program got off to a rough start, with the online exchanges experiencing several problems, most of the bugs have now been worked out of the system.

While over one million Californians have now successfully enrolled in a health insurance program, many gave up trying due to the problems they experienced with either the website or hotline. Others are still waiting to hear about the status of their paper applications. What everyone should know is that March 31 is the deadline for Open Enrollment. Those who have not yet completed their applications need to do so immediately, or risk going without health insurance during 2014.

Those who enroll in a health insurance plan between now andate part of the Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to purchase health insurance.

Individuals who need to shop for health insurance can do so by logging onto the Covered California website, filing a paper application, speaking with a qualified insurance agent, or calling the Covered California hotline for help. Small business owners who wish to protect their employees with health insurance can no longer access the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) exchange online, because the website is currently offline for repairs. However, business owners can still file a paper application or consult with an insurance agent.

Once the Open Enrollment period ends, neither individuals nor businesses will be able to apply for a health insurance policy until November 15, when enrollment re-opens.

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