Covered California deadline extended to Saturday night

The deadline for people to sign up through Covered California for medical insurance coverage that kicks in Jan. 1 has been extended to late Saturday night, according to state officials.

People who want insurance to start in January need to have completed the enrollment process by the end of the day Saturday, according to officials from Covered California, the independent agency responsible for maintaining the state’s health insurance market.

The original deadline was set for tonight, but increased demand prompted the extension, according to Covered California officials.

The open enrollment period, however, won’t end this week. People can still sign up and select a health coverage plan until Jan. 31 in order to get coverage in 2017.

People who sign up after this week’s deadline won’t have their coverage begin until either Feb. 1 or March 1, 2017.

Covered California is the marketplace enabled by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

It allows consumers to purchase health, dental, vision and prescription drug plans from providers like Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California, Health Net and Anthem Blue Cross.

People who qualify can also receive financial assistance in order to help pay their premiums.