Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Covered California To Begin Outreach for Second Enrollment Period




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Next week, Covered California will begin to prepare for its second open enrollment period by launching an advertising campaign aimed at encouraging residents to apply for first-time coverage or renew their current policies, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Covered California is the state's health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

Details of Enrollment Campaign

The $74 million ad campaign will run for the duration of the exchange's second enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15, 2015.
During the next enrollment period, Covered California officials are aiming to:
  • Increase enrollment from 1.2 million residents to 1.7 million residents;
  • Fix problems consumers faced during the first open enrollment period; and
  • Simplify the renewal process (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 9/2).

Details of Renewal Process

Consumers will be able to renew their exchange plans beginning on Oct. 1. However, individuals who want to change their coverage will have to wait until Nov. 15 to do so (Abelson, New York Times, 9/2).
Exchange policies will automatically be renewed by Dec. 15 if enrollees do not specify that they want to change plans, according to the Los Angeles Times. Beginning in mid-October, insurers will mail renewal notices that show a consumer's:
  • 2014 premium;
  • Current federal subsidy; and
  • Premium rate for next year.
The initial notices will not include information about the enrollee's 2015 federal subsidy. However, updated notices with subsidy information will be mailed between Oct. 10 and Dec. 15, according to officials.

Advocates Urge Consumers To Shop for Better Coverage

Meanwhile, some consumer advocates say individuals should hold off on renewing their plans and search for better deals, the Los Angeles Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 9/2).
In July, Covered California officials announced that the average premium for health plans offered on the exchange will increase by an average of 4.2% for the coming year. The rates vary depending on region, but most will see slight increases (California Healthline, 8/1). Some insurers will raise premiums by more than 10%, but others are cutting rates to increase competition, according to theLos Angeles Times.
Rates are expected to be finalized by Sept. 30.

Covered California 2015 Rates Will Increase an Average of 4.2%


The rates will be reviewed by state regulators before being implemented officially (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 7/31). 
The rates vary depending on region, but most will see slight increases:
  • In Alameda County, the weighted average increase is 2.8%;
  • In Contra Costa County, the weighted average increase is 3.8%;
  • In Fresno, Kings and Madera counties, the average weighted increase is 3%;
  • In Kern County, the weighted average increase is 4.5%;
  • In Los Angeles County, which includes two pricing regions, the weighted average increases are 4.4% and 4.3%;
  • In Northern California, the weighted average increase for premiums is 4.7%;
  • In Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties, the weighted average increase is 5.4%;
  • In Mono, Inyo and Imperial counties, the weighted average increase is 3.8%;
  • In Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, the weighted average increase is 2.9%;
  • In Orange County, the weighted average increase is 6.3%;
  • In the Sacramento area, the weighted average increase is 3.7%;
  • In San Bernardino and Riverside counties, the weighted average increase is 4.5%;
  • In San Diego County, the weighted average increase is 5.8%;
  • In San Francisco County, the weighted average increase is 6.6%;
  • In San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the weighted average increase is 5.1%;
  • In San Mateo County, the weighted average increase is 3.7%; and
  • In Santa Clara County, the weighted average increase is 1%.
All 10 insurers that participated in the state exchange during its first open enrollment period submitted bids and were approved to return in 2015, including:
  • 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; and
  • Western Health Advantage (Covered California release, 7/31).
Betsy Imholz, special projects director at Consumers Union, said, "We want to encourage people to shop first and not just default into a plan" (Los Angeles Times, 9/2).

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