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CoveredCA announces plans, rates and carriers for 2015 health insurance exchange August 7, 2014

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, California Health Insurance, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Individual Health Insurance.
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Late last week CoveredCA, California’s state-based health insurance exchange, announced its 2015 rate increase and carriers via press release on their homepage.  You as the consumer likely have many questions. Is my health insurance rate increasing? Are we getting any new carriers on the CoveredCA exchange? In short, not much will change in 2015. First, the carriers. In 2015, the carriers that will be offered through the CoveredCA exchange will be:

  • Anthem Blue Cross of California.
  • Blue Shield of California.
  • Chinese Community Health Plan.
  •  Health Net.
  • Kaiser Permanente.
  • L.A. Care Health Plan.
  • Molina Healthcare.
  • Sharp Health Plan.
  • Valley Health Plan.
  • Western Health Advantage.

The most noticeable thing about the list is that it is exactly the same as last year’s list, with the exception of Contra Costa Health Plan which has removed itself. The action was mutually agreed upon by both carrier and exchange.  Of the remaining carriers, the vast majority of the business went to the top 4- Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Health Net, and Kaiser Permanente.  The remaining carriers are regionally based without a statewide offering, often limited to HMO networks. The report of the rate increase was given as a statewide weighted average of 4.2%.  This is described by CoveredCA as “a blended rate that considers both the increase or decrease in rate and the number of consumers who will receive that rate change.”  Each carrier  therefore has its own average increase, and each policy within each plan within each rating region will reflect a different increase (or decrease) percentage.  Because of this, shopping your current plan is extremely important.  While your plan may have experienced a certain increase, there’s a decent chance you may be able to do better elsewhere. Keep in mind this is the increase in the overall plan cost, not necessarily what a consumer will actually pay.  Over 85 percent of exchange members receive some kind of subsidy, and based on how subsidies are determined there is a good chance that even if your premium goes up your subsidy may also rise to compensate for the increased premium.  It’s important to recalculate what your actual paid portion is going to be rather than just what the overall premium- to which CoveredCA contributes a percentage-  for 2015 is going to look like. In the same release, CoveredCA stressed that customer feedback has caused some carriers to reconsider their networks and add physicians to broaden their appeal and service more patients in a better fashion. 2015 open enrollment begins November 15th, 2014, however you can already compare plans and rates right now. Contact us at Quotebroker at 800-783-0802 or info@quotebroker.com for a free five minute quote.

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California governor signs legislation allowing small groups to keep health benefits through 2015 July 14, 2014

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, California Health Insurance, Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Health Insurance, small group.
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California businesses with small group health insurance got some good news last week when Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1446 into law. The legislation allows so-called “grandmothered plans”- plans from before the 2014 ACA changeover that are not ACA compliant but were allowed to be kept anyway- to be renewed for another year and kept through 2015.

This is a win for small business owners concerned about the rising costs of health insurance due to ACA mandates in place that would force them from their older plans onto a newer block of programs that account for the changes mandated by the ACA. In many cases, business owners are saving double digit percentages on what they would be paying had they switched to an ACA compliant plan when they were first released on 1/1/14.

This law only applies to existing groups with coverage already in force. New groups or companies that want to switch their coverage must still access care via the new ACA compliant plans. This can be done either traditionally direct with a carrier like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, etc. or it can be done through the newly created SHOP program run by the state of California. SHOP allows businesses to simply choose one tier of plan and let their employees shop across multiple carriers, while signing up traditionally allows only one carrier but multiple plan tiers, if desired.

Further information can be found at http://www.quotebroker.com or via the toll free hotline 800-783-0802

Obamacare enrollment numbers are in- but what do they mean? May 6, 2014

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, COBRA, Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Insurance Quotes, Obamacare.
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Obamacare enrollment numbers are in- but what do they mean?

The Obama administration has released a report detailing the enrollment numbers from the first enrollment period.  Note that these numbers are still incomplete, as final enrollments were still trickling in from the two week grace period given to consumers who had difficulty enrolling before March 31, 2014.  The big number that has been bandied about is “eight million enrolled” citizens into Obamacare plans- but what does that number actually mean?  Vox.com issued a nice summary at the link above.

The eight million figure comprises:

  • Consumers who created a marketplace account on an exchange, whether federal or state, and enrolled in a health insurance plan
  • “enrolled” in this case means “had their information sent to the insurance company
  • Some percentage of these folks have not and will not pay for their premium- an estimated 10-15%, based on numbers recently released by AHIP– America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The figure does NOT include:

  • Private enrollments made through carriers directly outside of the marketplace
  • Medicaid enrollments
  • Group enrollments
  • Those young adults under age 26 who were eligible to enroll in their parents’ health plan

Attempting to calculate Obamacare’s true reach is extremely difficult. We can count who signed up for insurance, but we can’t determine who only signed up because the legislation caused them to lose their plan in the first place.  We can count who signed up for Medicaid, but we can’t calculate who signed up that was newly eligible based on the new Medicaid expansion rules.

We will also see these numbers fluctuate throughout the “offseason” between open enrollments.  Special Enrollment Periods, unlocked with major qualifying life events, will be used to move into marketplace plans even now that open enrollment has closed. Marriage, birth, adoption and especially job loss are common triggers of Special Enrollment Periods. The individual health insurance industry always had some degree of turnover, much of it attributable to consumers getting new jobs and leaving the individual market to join their employer-sponsored group plan.  The same will continue under the ACA, as will the reverse scenario of consumers leaving their jobs with employer-sponsored plans and entering the individual market, as the lack of pre-existing condition exclusions will allow free movement between group and individual programs. These “final” enrollment numbers released by the administration are anything but.

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