California's health insurance exchange on Wednesday announced the process for people who are trying to enroll, but fail to complete their application for a plan by Monday's deadline.
The clarification followed formal guidance issued by the Obama administration earlier Wednesday indicating that the federal government would provide consumers a "limited amount of additional time to finish the application and enrollment period." To qualify for the extension, consumers will only have to attest that they started the process before the deadline.
But the administration's extension applies only to people using the healthcare.gov website in 36 states, which does not include California.
Covered California on Wednesday outlined a specific procedure that consumers must follow to be eligible to finish their application by April 15.
The exchange "is not extending its deadline for applying for coverage," said Peter Lee, Covered California's executive director. He emphasized that it is helping enrollees finish the application as long as they have started it by Monday, and completed it up to a specific point.
"We are committed to helping consumers get across the finish line," Lee said.
He said California residents who start an online application by 11:59 p.m. Monday will have until 11:59 p.m. April 15 to complete their application and select a plan. To start an application, the consumer must:
Lee said consumers then must return to their online account before April 15 to finish the application and select a plan.
Lee said anyone who fails to sign up for a health insurance plan by Monday will be locked out of the health insurance market until the next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15.
"The insurance market has been changed by the Affordable Care Act," Lee said. "Come April 1, individual insurance companies will not be selling any individual insurance in the market in California, or any other state" until fall.
Anyone who doesn't enroll in a health plan will face a penalty of $95 per adult, or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater.
Under the federal health care law, the only way someone can amend or adjust their health insurance coverage after Monday is if they experience a "life-changing event," such as getting married, having a baby, adopting a child, moving to a new area that offers different health plans or losing a job.
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.