Covered California officials this week provided a snapshot of the latest insurance enrollment numbers.

Last March 276,350 Bay Area residents enrolled in Covered California, which offers discounts to some state residents on brand-name health insurance and where others can sign up for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medcaid program.

Source: Covered California

About 1.4 million people statewide enrolled in Covered California last March. The new numbers may be up 20 percent over last year, a Covered California spokesman said recently.

“We’ve seen significant interest in enrollment” in this enrollment period, which ended Jan. 31, Covered California spokesman James Scullary said.

Last year was a down year because no penalty existed for people who did not have insurance, he said.

But state legislators enacted a law that took effect Jan. 1 that requires most California residents to have insurance or face a penalty at tax time. No penalty exists at the federal level anymore.

Scullary said the penalty provides an economic “nudge” for people to get insurance.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Pagransen. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Pagransen, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.