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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.


Obamacare’s “Wedding Tax” and the Perks of Cohabitation October 7, 2013

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, Affordable Health Insurance, California Health Insurance, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Individual Health Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Quotes, Obamacare.
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Wedding days are typically one of the happiest days of a couple’s new life together, and also one of the costliest.  Under the Affordable Care Act, they are about to get a whole lot costlier. While millions of families will benefit from Obamacare’s Premium Subsidy program, a little-publicized feature of the law will adversely affect married couples.  How could a government program to hand out health insurance premium assistance be a negative? The devil is in the details- specifically the mathematics of how eligibility for the premium assistance is calculated.

Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, individuals earning under 400% of the Federal Poverty Line- $45,960 in 2013- will be eligible to receive “Advanced Premium Tax Credits,” which is just a fancy name for government money to help pay your monthly health insurance bill.  Unfortunately for those who are married, that same Federal Poverty Line guideline sets a threshold of $62,040 in combined income for the couple.

Because of the way these figures are calculated, Obamacare actually creates a disincentive to marry or remain married, a so-called “Wedding Tax.”  Unmarried cohabitating couples are given preferential treatment under the law. Let’s look at an example of a 50 year old couple without children living in Santa Clarita, with a combined income of $50,000 per year:

Combined Income Net Premium if Married Separate Incomes Combined Net Premium If Cohabitating Benefit of Cohabitation over Marriage
$50,000 $4,752 $25,000 x 2 $3,456 $1,296

*all data via CoveredCA.com, assuming “Silver” level coverage.

The married couple actually pays an additional $108 a month, or $1,296 per year than the cohabitating couple, despite both couples receiving subsidies and both couples enrolling in identical coverage.   Now let’s take a look at what happens when the couples’ income exceeds the subsidy threshold of $62,040 by even a single dollar.

Combined Income Net Premium if Married Separate Incomes Combined Net Premium If Cohabitating Benefit of Cohabitation over Marriage
$62,041 $8,772 2 x $31,020 $5,352 $3,420

*all data via CoveredCA.com, assuming “Silver” level coverage.

Once a couple’s income breaches the threshold, the difference in premium becomes much more apparent.  In this case, the married couple pays an additional $3,420 per year for identical coverage.   One way they can attempt to solve the issue is to earn a few thousand dollars less per year, mitigating the five-figure premium difference.  There are two issues with this strategy- first, encouraging workers to work less is not good for our economy and second, if either spouse’s income is difficult to keep track of precisely they could accidentally breach the threshold despite their best efforts not to, negating the strategy.  Another way to attempt to solve the issue is to use a tax-deferred vehicle like an IRA or H.S.A to reduce the couple’s income “on paper” and keep them under the subsidy line.  While this stratrgy (under the supervision of a good accountant) may work to reduce the effects of the law on the married couple, it will do nothing to change the fact that the gap with unmarried cohabitating couples still exists.  Under the Affordable Care Act, your matrimonial “I dos” turn quickly into “I dues.”

CoveredCA is live! Open Enrollment starts today! October 1, 2013

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, Affordable Health Insurance, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Health Insurance 101, Individual Health Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Quotes, Obamacare, QuoteBroker, small group.
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CoveredCA is live! Open Enrollment starts today!

CoveredCA, California’s state based health exchange, is LIVE today! Despite last night’s government shutdown, Obamacare is live! Here’s how you can check eligibility and sign up for benefits today:

-call: 800-783-0802 x 707
-email: info@quotebroker.com
-facebook: Quotebroker Insurance Services
– Twitter: @Quotebroker

Or just reply directly to this blog post. Ask anything you want via any media you’d like. We’re happy to assist in any way possible. Even if you just have ACA/Obamacare questions you want to ask without going through the entire subsidy qualification and quoting process, fire away and we’ll answer ASAP

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