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Deadline for Covered California, with its new health insurance mandate, extended to Jan. 31

Insurance or a $2,000 fee on your taxes in 2021? Covered California experts say check again if you thought rates were to high in years past.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Bottom line, healthcare is expensive. But going without health insurance comes with consequences in California, like a penalty from the state when you file your taxes in 2021.

"The penalty will be for what you did this year — 2020. It's a new law," explained Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. "The thing we don't want is, a year from now when people are pulling together their documents saying 'Oh my God, a penalty?'"

The penalty Lee referenced can be explored here, and whether you like or not — not having insurance in 2020 will result in one. To avoid paying a fee, burn this date into your mind: Jan. 31, 2020.

That is the deadline for those without insurance to apply for coverage through Covered California.

RELATED: Gavin Newsom's first action? Health care for young people and health insurance mandate

”Middle class Californians can get financial help," Lee said. "They can lower their healthcare costs by hundreds and hundreds of dollars. But they only way to find out is to check."

He went on to say that if, years ago, you checked out Covered California and thought it was too expensive, "check again" because rates have changed. 

"And do it before the deadline, Jan. 31," he said.

WHAT IF I DON'T GET HEALTH INSURANCE?

A family of four without health insurance could be subject to a $2,000 penalty when filing taxes next year, according to Covered California. 

They understand why you might want to skip sign up, so they've even provided a calculator for you to figure out what your fine might be. 

If you want to compare what your penalty might be, to what your annual coverage cost with Covered California might be, click here.  

Again, the deadline is Jan. 31, 2020. All you have to do is visit Covered California’s site, see what you’re eligible for, pick a plan and make your first monthly payment to have coverage by Feb. 1, 2020.

HOW TO APPLY TO COVERED CALIFORNIA:

See if you qualify for financial help: Click here and you'll be taken to a page that ask several questions about your financial status, like how many people are in your household and what your annual family income is.

Check out programs you qualify for: Click through and learn about four options: Covered California, Medi-Cal, Coverage for Pregnant Women and the County Children’s Health Initiative Program. Your best bet though is to click "shop and compare" to answer a few more questions that will fit you to the right program.

*NOTE: This step is not an application. It’s simply a way to find out if you’re eligible and what program fits you best.

Preview plans to compare prices: The bad news is, you’ll have to answer a few more questions. The good news is, you’re almost done and can start applying here!  

WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO APPLY ONLINE: Social security numbers of all applicants, immigration documents for non-citizens, employer and income information, federal tax information.

*NOTE: You can find paper applications in all languages needed, here.

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WATCH MORE: Gov. Gavin Newsom announcing health care proposals during four-city tour across California