News Release

Date Posted

New Study Shows Covered California Consumers Saving and Paying Much Less Than Expected for Quality Health Care Coverage


  • Competitive market allows consumers to save money by shopping.
  • The average purchase price for health plans in each metal tier has been more than 10 percent below the average offered price for three consecutive years.
  • Consumers now have through midnight on Friday, Jan. 20, to sign up and have their coverage start Feb. 1.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A new independent study by The Commonwealth Fund found Covered California consumers are protecting themselves from rate changes and paying much less than the average price of plans by shopping for the best value. The study looked at the policies Covered California consumers purchased between 2014 and 2016 and found the average price paid in each year has been between 11 and 15 percent less than the average price of the plans offered.

“This study shows how Covered California consumers are being smart and saving money by shopping,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Consumers are getting the best value, which means most are paying far less than ‘the average’ premium.”

Among the study’s key findings:
  • The study found consumers in each metal tier paid 11.6 percent less than the average price offered in 2014, 13.2 percent less in 2015 and 15.2 percent less in 2016.
  • When measured as an average purchase price, consumers saw a premium increase of 2 percent over the 2014–15 period, and 3 percent over the 2015–16 period.
  • Consumers responded to rate changes by shifting to lower-cost plans. In 2016, 62 percent of new enrollees and 56 percent of renewing enrollees chose the lowest- or second-lowest-priced plans available.
  • The findings suggest Covered California is helping to moderate cost growth. The researchers say, “Covered California demonstrates — straight out of Economics 101 — that if consumers have easy-to-understand, transparent information without being overwhelmed with too many choices, they will buy lower-premium products available on their tier.”
“Covered California’s competitive market is working and putting consumers in the driver’s seat,” Lee said. “With our patient-centered plan designs, consumers in the same metal tier get the same benefits, many of which are not subject to a deductible.”

The study can be found here: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/in-the-literature/2017/jan/consumers-buy-lower-cost-plans.

Covered California also announced it is extending a key enrollment deadline for consumers who want their coverage to start on Feb. 1. Consumers will now have until Friday, Jan. 20 at midnight to sign up for health insurance that will begin at the beginning of next month.

“The original Jan. 15 deadline falls on a Sunday this year, which is in the middle of a three-day holiday weekend,” Lee said. “Covered California wants to make sure consumers have the time they need to examine their choices and choose the health plan that best fits their needs.”

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2017. Consumers who enroll between Jan. 21 and Jan. 31 will have their coverage start on March 1.

Consumers interested in enrolling online can do so on CoveredCA.com. They can also get free and confidential in-person assistance, in a variety of languages, by clicking on “Free Local Help to Enroll.” They can find a nearby enroller or have a certified enroller contact them through the “Help on Demand” feature. Consumers can also enroll over the phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace, where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies. Covered California is the only place where individuals who qualify can get financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Depending on their income, some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.

In addition, small business owners can purchase affordable health insurance for their employees through Covered California for Small Business.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.

Covered California Brings Health Care Within Reach and Shows How Consumers Can Save by Shopping


  • Consumers who change plans while renewing their Covered California health plan are saving on average $38 per month, or $456 a year, by switching to the lowest-priced plan in their metal tier — demonstrating the power of choice and competition.
  • Covered California is addressing the need for truly affordable health insurance: With federal tax credits, nearly 50 percent of consumers can get a Silver plan for less than $100 per month, often with low copays and deductibles. In addition, 60 percent of consumers receiving tax credits can get a Bronze plan for less than $10 per month that provides free preventive care and protection for high-cost medical events.
  • 258,158 new consumers have signed up during this enrollment period.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California released new data that demonstrates that affordable health care is within reach of consumers, and that renewing consumers can save money when they shop around and switch to a lower-cost plan within the same metal tier.

“Covered California has built a competitive market where the consumer is in the driver’s seat and our health plans are fighting for their business,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Consumers who are shopping and switching to the lowest-cost plan in the same metal tier are saving more than $450 per year.”

The data reveals two key points for the approximately 1.3 million Californians who are renewing their coverage with Covered California:
  • Enrollees who have switched their health plan for 2017, but whose plan remains within the same metal tier, have saved an average of $38 per household per month or $456 per year.
  • The majority of renewing enrollees, 78 percent, could pay less than they are paying now if they switch to the lowest-cost plan within the same metal tier.
For both those renewing their coverage and those getting covered for the first time, Covered California released data confirming the affordability of health insurance for the close to 90 percent of consumers who benefit from federal tax credits:
  • Nearly half of all Covered California consumers, 49 percent, can get a Silver plan costing less than $100 per month. All of these consumers would benefit from financial assistance to lower their out-of-pocket expenses at various levels. In fact, 195,000 people, or 17 percent of current Covered California enrollees, can visit their doctor for only a $5 copay and will have an annual deductible of only $75 for an individual and $150 for a family. (The deductible only applies to hospital care.)

    • For all Silver plans, no outpatient services — such as primary, urgent and specialist care, and diagnostic tests and generic prescription drugs — are subject to a deductible.
  • More than half of all Covered California consumers receiving a tax credit, 59 percent, can get a Bronze plan for less than $10 per month. Bronze plans offer three visits to a primary care physician or specialist that are not subject to a deductible.
“The availability of tax credits is making health care truly affordable,” Lee said. “Not only can our consumers see the best doctors and hospitals in the state, but our patient-centered benefits are giving them access to care without being subject to a deductible.”

Covered California also announced that as of the end of Jan. 3, more than 258,000 people have signed up for health insurance coverage through CoveredCA.com or a certified enroller.

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2017. Consumers who enroll by the Jan. 15 deadline will have their coverage start on Feb. 1. Those who enroll between Jan. 16 and Jan. 31 will have coverage beginning March 1.

Consumers interested in enrolling online can do so on CoveredCA.com. They can also get free and confidential in-person assistance, in a variety of languages, by clicking on “Free Local Help to Enroll.” They can find a nearby enroller or have a certified enroller contact them through the “Help on Demand” feature. Consumers can also enroll over the phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace, where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies. Covered California is the only place where individuals who qualify can get financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Depending on their income, some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.

In addition, small business owners can purchase affordable health insurance for their employees through Covered California for Small Business.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.


Covered California Announces Appointment of Karen Johnson as Chief Deputy Executive Director, Operations

Also Announces Selection of Darryl Lewis as Director, Office of the Ombudsman

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee announced today the appointment by the Board of Directors of Karen Johnson as chief deputy executive director, Operations; and the selection of Darryl Lewis as the first director of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Covered California Enrollment Continues to Surge for January Coverage

Deadline Extended to Dec. 19 to Align with Federal Marketplace

  • Consumers now have through midnight on Monday, Dec. 19 to sign up and have their coverage begin starting Jan. 1.
  • More than 67,000 new consumers selected a plan during the past four days.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California is extending a key enrollment deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1 in order to align with a new federal announcement made yesterday that extends the deadline for HealthCare.gov states.

Consumers enrolling through Covered California will now have through Monday, Dec. 19 at midnight to sign up for health care coverage that will begin on Jan. 1.

Covered California hopes that by aligning the deadline with HealthCare.gov it will reduce any confusion that consumers may experience after hearing yesterday’s federal announcement, and give consumers the time they need to sign up for coverage.

Over the past four days more than 67,000 new consumers have signed up for health coverage through CoveredCA.com or a certified enroller, including 19,000 on Wednesday and 23,000 on Thursday. By comparison, 62,000 consumers enrolled during the same four-day time period in 2015.

Overall, more than 196,000 consumers have signed up during the current open-enrollment period.

“Many of our insurance agents are saying their stores are full and they’re booked,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Our responsibility is to keep the doors open as long as we can so that people have health care coverage on January first.”


Consumers sign up for health coverage, which will take effect Jan. 1,
at Quote Selection Insurance Services in Huntington Beach.
While the deadline has been extended through Monday, Covered California wants to alert consumers that CoveredCA.com will be offline Sunday night for a regularly planned upgrade. The system will be unavailable to consumers starting Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and service will be restored by Monday morning at 7:00 a.m.

Consumers interested in enrolling online can do so on CoveredCA.com. They can also get free and confidential in-person assistance, in a variety of languages, by clicking on “Free Local Help to Enroll.” They can find a nearby enroller or have a certified enroller contact them through the “Help on Demand” feature. Consumers can also enroll over the phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2017. Consumers who enroll after the Dec. 19 deadline will have their coverage start on either Feb. 1 or March 1.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace, where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies. Covered California is the only place where individuals who qualify can get financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Depending on their income, some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.

In addition, small business owners can purchase affordable health insurance for their employees through Covered California for Small Business.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.

Covered California Extends Enrollment Deadline as Consumer Interest Continues to Grow


  • Consumers now have until midnight on Dec. 17 to sign up for health care coverage that will begin on Jan. 1.
  • More than 25,000 new consumers selected a plan during the past two days, which is more than enrolled at this time last year.
  • Open-enrollment plan selections continue to surge ahead of last year’s pace.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Thanks to a strong increase in demand, Covered California is giving consumers more time to sign up for health coverage that will start on Jan. 1.

Over the past two days, Covered California has seen nearly double the number of new consumers enroll compared to the same two days last year. More than 11,000 consumers signed up on Monday and nearly 14,000 signed up on Tuesday. The two-day total of more than 25,000 new enrollees surpasses the number of consumers who signed up between Dec. 12 and 13, 2015, when more than 13,000 consumers enrolled.

The surge in enrollment brings this year’s total to more than 153,000 new enrollees. In comparison, Covered California had 144,000 people sign up by this time last year.

“This strong demand shows that Californians are using the competitive marketplace that Covered California provides,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “We are ahead of last year’s pace and are giving our Service Center staff and certified enrollers the time they need to bring health care coverage to thousands more.”

Consumers now have until midnight on Saturday, Dec.17 to sign up and have their coverage start on Jan. 1.

Consumers interested in enrolling online can do so on CoveredCA.com. They can also get free and confidential in-person assistance, in a variety of languages, by clicking on “Free Local Help to Enroll.” They can find a nearby enroller or have a certified enroller contact them through the “Help on Demand” feature. Consumers can also enroll over the phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2017. Consumers who enroll after the Dec. 17 deadline will have their coverage start on either Feb. 1 or March 1.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace, where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies. Covered California is the only place where individuals who qualify can get financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Depending on their income, some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.

In addition, small business owners can purchase affordable health insurance for their employees through Covered California for Small Business.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.

Covered California Enrollment Surging as Critical Deadline for Coverage Approaches


  • Consumers must enroll by Dec. 15 to have coverage starting Jan. 1.
  • More than 139,000 new consumers have selected a plan during the current open-enrollment period.
  • 1.2 million current consumers have had their plans renewed for 2017.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With a key deadline coming up this week, Covered California released new data on the number of people who have signed up for coverage during the current open-enrollment period, and the number of existing consumers who have had their coverage renewed for 2017.

On Monday, Dec. 12, more than 11,000 new consumers signed up for health insurance coverage through CoveredCA.com or a certified enroller, bringing this year’s total to more than 139,000 new enrollees so far. Signing up soon is key because consumers must enroll by midnight on Thursday, Dec. 15 in order to have their health care coverage begin on Jan. 1, 2017.

“Covered California is open for business and consumers have two more days to get in and get the protection they deserve starting on January first,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Getting covered is the best plan, and we stand ready to help consumers understand their options and determine whether they qualify for financial assistance to help pay for their coverage.”

In addition to alerting consumers about the upcoming Dec. 15 deadline, Covered California also announced that more than 1.2 million of its existing consumers have had their coverage renewed for 2017.

“Coverage matters, and we have a competitive market that is working for millions of Californians and bringing health care within reach,” Lee said. “Not only can our consumers see the best doctors and hospitals in the state, our patient-centered benefits are giving them access to care without being subject to a deductible.”

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2017. Consumers who enroll after the Dec. 15 deadline will have their coverage start on either Feb. 1 or March 1. Consumers interested in learning more about enrolling should go to CoveredCA.com or call (800) 300-1506.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace, where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies. Covered California is the only place where individuals who qualify can get financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Depending on their income, some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.

In addition, small business owners can purchase affordable health insurance for their employees through Covered California for Small Business.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.

Covered California Announces Appointment of Doug McKeever as Chief Deputy Executive Director, Program

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee today announced the appointment by the Board of Directors of Doug P. McKeever as Chief Deputy Executive Director, Program.

In this role, McKeever will report to the executive director and will manage the Plan Management, Outreach and Sales, Marketing, Service Center and Policy divisions, with a staff of close to 1,000 employees under his leadership. He will be responsible for developing and implementing plans to increase growth and improve consumer services and health plan relations through strong support and management.

“Doug McKeever comes to us with a tremendous reputation in both health care and public service,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary and Covered California Board Chairwoman Diana Dooley. “We are fortunate to have him, and his hiring is a testament to Covered California’s building for the future.”

McKeever comes to Covered California from CalPERS, where he has been a senior-level executive since joining the agency. McKeever is the deputy executive officer at CalPERS, where he is responsible for all areas related to health care and contracts for carriers, billing reconciliation, long-term care and state and federal health care and pension policy, legislation and regulations. He and his team work with all of the large health plans in Covered California, as well as dealing with the same health care dynamics with providers.

“While it has been a privilege to work at CalPERS, this is a great opportunity to focus on health care and be part of Covered California’s work to both provide needed coverage and improve how health care works for all Californians,” McKeever said.

“Doug McKeever brings a wonderful background, experience and perspective that will help Covered California as we move into the future,” Lee said. “He is a great fit for us and will work hard to assure we continue to deliver on our important mission.”

McKeever will officially begin work at his new position on Jan. 3, 2017.

McKeever has 27 years of experience working for the state of California. He was the director of juvenile programs for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), covering all of the state detention facilities and prisons housing the state’s youth. In this position he was responsible for such areas as health care and education. He also served as director of mental health at CDCR. McKeever currently sits on numerous health care-related boards. The salary for McKeever’s position is $230,000.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies. Covered California is the only place where individuals can qualify for financial assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Based on income, some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.

In addition, Covered California for Small Business is available for small businesses to purchase insurance for their employees.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.

Covered California to Launch Open Enrollment Tuesday for Health Coverage in 2017


  • Changes to the insurance products mean consumers will save when they access care.
  • New shopping tools and 300 new storefronts make it easier for consumers to shop for coverage.
  • More choices in 2017 in Orange, San Francisco and Santa Cruz counties.
  • Enrollees will get a primary care doctor when they enroll to ease access to care.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians who need health insurance will find new ways to shop for coverage and new ways to save in 2017 when open enrollment begins on Tuesday. More than 92 percent of consumers will have three or more health plans to choose from, and none will have fewer than two.

“California has built a robust marketplace where insurers are competing for consumers and where there is financial help to buy top-quality insurance,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Starting next week, all consumers can choose from a variety of affordable health care options, with coverage that gives them the protection they need for whatever health issues come their way.”

Making Care More Affordable
  • For 2017, most consumers will see a lower copay for their primary care visits, and urgent care costs in every plan will be the same as the primary care visit, helping consumers save up to $55 per visit.
  • Consumers in Silver, Gold and Platinum plans will pay a flat copay for emergency room visits in 2017 without having to satisfy a deductible, which could help them save thousands of dollars.
These improvements for 2017 build on features already in place that help make care more affordable for Covered California enrollees. Most outpatient services in Silver, Gold and Platinum plans are not subject to a deductible, including primary care visits, specialist visits, lab tests, X-rays and imaging. Even consumers in Covered California’s most affordable Bronze plans are able to see their doctor or a specialist three times before the visits are subject to the deductible.

“We know health care is expensive, so we took steps to make sure consumers who do buy coverage get the care they need without having to first meet their full deductible,” Lee said.

New Health and Dental Plan Choices for 2017

Three of Covered California’s 11 health plans are expanding their coverage areas. Molina Healthcare is moving into Orange County, Kaiser Permanente will be available in Santa Cruz County and Oscar Health Plan of California will be offering coverage in San Francisco County.

The other plans continuing to offer coverage for 2017 are Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Health Net, L.A. Care Health Plan, Sharp Health Plan, Valley Health Plan and Western Health Advantage.

Covered California is also adding two new family dental plans, Liberty Dental Plan and California Dental Network. They will join Access Dental Plan, Anthem Blue Cross, Delta Dental of California, Dental Health Services and Premier Access. Liberty Dental Plan will offer coverage in all ZIP codes in 2017, and California Dental Network will offer very competitive rates in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange counties, and in parts of Sacramento, the north Bay Area, the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and San Diego.

More Consumer Help While Shopping

Consumers shopping for health coverage can get a wide variety of free support to learn about their options online, by phone, at community events and at more than 800 Covered California storefronts statewide.

An upgraded online shopping tool enables consumers to see 12 plan options on a page and filter their choices by plan, plan type, price, out-of-pocket costs, quality rating and metal tier, among other features. Consumers can also select their preferred plan and the information will be transferred to the application automatically. Another feature is the ability to shop for health or dental insurance and switch between the two offerings.

Consumers who want assistance by phone can leave their number for a call back from the Covered California Service Center. Soon, consumers will have the option of getting an immediate call from an expert enroller to assist them with their shopping and application.

“Covered California is making it easier than ever to sign up — whether it is online, over the phone or in person,” Lee said. “We think this will ensure that our interested customers get the help they need to complete the application process.”

Improving Access to Care

Starting in 2017, Covered California enrollees who do not have a doctor will be matched to a primary care physician who has an open practice within 60 days of their coverage taking effect so that they have an advocate and entry point to the health care system. They can designate a different physician at any time.

“Health care reform isn’t just about making insurance available, it’s about doing things to make it easier for consumers to get the right care at the right time,” Lee said. “We think this is going to be helpful for our consumers — especially those in need of their first physician. We never want the inability to find a doctor to prevent people from accessing the care they need.”

New Television Advertising and Third Annual Bus Tour

A new addition to Covered California’s advertising campaign is a unique television ad aimed at encouraging individuals to get insured. “The Scene,” developed with Campbell Ewald, leverages the viewer’s point-of-view during an emergency situation. The ad reinforces that life can change in an instant, and encourages individuals to be covered when it does. “The Scene” is one element of a comprehensive statewide, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual advertising campaign utilizing television, radio, print, out-of-home, digital and social ads, in addition to targeted outreach aimed at enrolling the African American, LGBT, Spanish-speaking and Asian-language-speaking communities.

In addition, the Covered California bus will travel throughout communities in
California to promote enrollment starting Nov. 12.

Similar to last year, Covered California estimates that as many as 400,000 individuals will enroll and that the total enrollment will be similar to what it was after open enrollment ended in 2016 — approximately 1.4 million people.

Since the exchange opened its doors in 2014, more than 2.8 million Californians have purchased health insurance through Covered California, and the rate of the uninsured in the state has been cut in half.

Open enrollment continues through Jan. 31, 2017. Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to CoveredCA.com or call (800) 300-1506.

About Covered California

Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget.

Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits. Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.