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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.

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

California COBRA recipients now eligible for CoveredCA individual health insurance during short-term Special Enrollment Period May 19, 2014

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in Insurance Quotes.
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April 15th, 2014 marked the end of the first round of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act.  However, if you are still in the market for health insurance, you may not be out of luck. CoveredCA, the California state-based health insurance exchange, recently announced that they would extend a one-time Special Enrollment Period to those individuals who are still on COBRA coverage.  COBRA coverage is offered to individuals who leave their jobs but would like to continue their health insurance coverage. It’s a temporary arrangement, usually lasting 12-18 months, allowing the individual to get back on their feet and get coverage either from their new job or via the individual market.

Until now, those who were on COBRA would have to exhaust their COBRA benefit before being eligible for CoveredCA plans and subsidies.  With this announcement, CoveredCA extends the option to get covered to those currently on COBRA without having to exhaust the coverage.  So who might benefit from this open enrollment period?

  • Individuals who earn less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Line– about $46k for an individual or $95k for a family of four.  These folks can obtain a subsidy to help pay for their coverage
  • Individuals who are close to the expiration of their COBRA coverage and would like to get a jump on their new programs, allowing them to maximize the time they are on the new policy in the 2014 calendar year.
  • Individuals who would like to change their provider network, perhaps from HMO to PPO or vice-versa. 
  • Those who have used some or all of a particular benefit on the COBRA policy that resets yearly, like a physical exam. Switching to a new plan via CoveredCA would reset these benefits.

What might be the downside of taking advantage of this SEP?

  • Just as the good benefits of the plan reset, so do the bad.  This means if you have already satisfied your deductible/OOP for the year, it will reset when you start a new plan- even if you stay with the same company.
  • If you earn over 400% of the FPL, you don’t qualify for a subsidy. Unsubsidized coverage might not represent a discount on what you are currently paying for COBRA coverage
  • If you currently enjoy a wide network or have a doctor that doesn’t accept the networks assigned to the plans under the CoveredCA umbrella, and you don’t want to switch providers, you will want to avoid taking advantage of this CoveredCA SEP.
  • If someone is contributing funds toward your COBRA plan as per the terms of a severance, you may lose those additional funds if you switch to CoveredCA. Check with the person with whom you made this agreement with in the first place, as it may be advantageous to them to see you switch from the COBRA plan on to the CoveredCA coverage.

For plans and pricing available during CoveredCA’s Special Enrollment Period, just call 800-783-0802.

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