(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Time’s up.

After various extensions, the deadline to finish signing up for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act is here. People have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to complete their applications.

Dana Howard from the state marketplace Covered California says the deadline is real. There will be no more grace periods for people who encounter long lines or technical difficulties on the website. There will be no special dispensation this time for people who wait until the last minute.

“We’re not making up a new policy for people who have not taken this seriously,” Howard said. “This is your health. This is a new law.”

Organizers with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) hosted health fairs through the weekend where people who had trouble signing up online by the original March 31st deadline could get help in person. They have two fairs on Monday in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

“I also find tons of people who say, ya know what, ‘I was able to get all the way through the process, but I didn’t pick a plan. I wasn’t sure,’” said Elliott Petty, an organizer overseeing fairs in LA.

After Tuesday, people will be able to sign up for insurance only if they have what is known as a  “qualifying life event.”

“Things like get married, you have or you adopt a child, as well if you lose a job and therefore your health coverage goes out the door,” says Howard.

Enrollment in Medi-Cal, the state’s no- or low-cost coverage for low-income people, has no deadline for enrollment. People who qualify can sign up anytime.

Those who do not have insurance in 2014 may have to pay a penalty — 1 percent of income or $95, whichever is greater.


April Dembosky

April Dembosky is the health reporter for The California Report and KQED News. She covers health policy and public health, and has reported extensively on the economics of health care, the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act in California, mental health and end-of-life issues.

Her work is regularly rebroadcast on NPR and has been recognized with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists (for sports reporting), and the Association of Health Care Journalists (for a story about pediatric hospice). Her hour-long radio documentary about home funerals won the Best New Artist award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival in 2009.

April occasionally moonlights on the arts beat, covering music and dance. Her story about the first symphony orchestra at Burning Man won the award for Best Use of Sound from the Public Radio News Directors Inc.

Before joining KQED in 2013, April covered technology and Silicon Valley for The Financial Times, and freelanced for Marketplace and The New York Times. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Smith College.

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