Covered California Deadline and Effective Dates

It pays to plan ahead.

An effective date is the first day your insurance company starts to cover you. They will not pay for medical expenses prior to this date. It’s a general rule of thumb that coverage starts the first day of the month.

Submit your application by the applicable Covered California deadline in order for the insurance company to honor a particular effective date. As always, we recommend submitting your application ahead of time rather than the day of the Covered California deadline. This way you beat the rush, and provide time for any corrections needed on the application.

How It Works During Open Enrollment

Most anyone can sign up, renew a plan, or make plan changes during open enrollment. The effective date is determined by the date the application is submitted or plan change was requested. This chart is not reflective of each year’s open enrollment dates, so make sure to double check before you make plans.

Open Enrollment Deadline Effective Date
  • Enroll
  • Health Plan Change
  • Health Plan Renewal
December 15th January 1st
January 15th February 1st

Covered California Deadline and Effective Dates

The enrollment process at Health for California is simple and intuitive to use. The graphic below helps you understand the few simple steps you can expect to take during open enrollment to help you get the right health plan for yourself or your family.

Visit Health for California’s online form and follow the prompts to add your name, date of birth, zip code and gender for yourself and anyone else you need to cover. Our system gives you quotes for different plans so you can select the right plan for your needs before the Covered California deadline.

Our system lets you compare options side by side and apply for Marketplace coverage. Before you apply, you get a chance to speak with a Health for California agent to finalize the enrollment. The process is simple and designed to save you time while giving you the support you need to enjoy peace of mind with the right coverage.

Do you have questions about effective dates or any other part of the process, or need help securing the right coverage? It’s not a problem. At any point in the process, you can contact the friendly and professional Health for California team at 1-877-752-4737.

How It Works During Special Open Enrollment

Outside the open enrollment window is the special enrollment period. During this timeframe a qualified life event occurring within the last 60 days is required in order to enroll. Sixty days past is counted from the date the application is submitted.

Special Open Enrollment Deadline  Effective Date 
Had a baby or adopted a child Within 60 days of event Date of birth or adoption
Lost or will soon lose health insurance Last day of the month 1st of the following month
Got married or entered into a domestic partnership 15th of the month 1st of the following month
Permanently moved to/within California
Gained citizenship/lawful presence
Returned from active duty military service
Released from jail or prison
Federally Recognized American Indian or Alaska Native


There is a short period of time when open enrollment and special enrollment overlap.

What if you move permanently to California the first week in November and need your insurance to start December 1st? Well, it is the open enrollment period, but for general applications the effective date is January 1st and you need coverage sooner.

In order to get the correct effective date, your application would need to be:

  1. Marked as an application with a special qualifying life event of “permanently moved to California” within the last 60 days

  2. Submitted no later than the Covered California deadline of November 15th

It can be a little tricky. If you find yourself in this situation, give us a call at 1-877-752-4737 and we can walk you through the process.

Pay Your First Month’s Premium

Nothing is final until you pay. Remember, you can submit your application on time, but unless you pay your first month’s premium, your health insurance will not be activated for the effective date you want.

Not sure how Obamacare affects your health care plans in California? Learn how the ACA works in California, including benefits, costs and enrollment.

Covered California is the Golden State’s official health exchange marketplace where individuals, families and small businesses can find high-quality, low-cost California government health insurance.

Learn about Obamacare income guidelines in California using our income limits chart, and see if you’re eligible for government assistance.

Learn about the Covered California website. Find easy online enrollment. Set up your account, log in, buy insurance and more on the California health marketplace website.