Monday, November 25, 2013

Covered California Launches Hotline for Consumers Facing Plan Transition

Service Center Representatives Will Be Trained to Care for Particular Needs

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California™ today established a special customer care unit and phone number dedicated to helping enrollees who are transitioning from current market health insurance plans to coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

These consumers are encouraged to call the Coverage Options Hotline to get information about the new law and the transitions, explore health plans and benefits, and find options for the most affordable coverage.



The hotline, at (855) 857-0445, will operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The unit will be housed at the existing Rancho Cordova Service Center.

The team is made up of 25 Service Center representatives getting customized training to handle questions from this specific group of enrollees. While 32 million Californians will keep their existing plans and another 4 million uninsured will get coverage beginning next year, it’s projected that about 900,000 Californians will be moved off policies that are discontinuing as of Dec. 31, 2013, because the plans don’t meet the minimum benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

Of those, about 310,000 policyholders are expected to get premium assistance with their new plans. Another 590,000 may not be subsidy-eligible but could see comparable rates or slight increases in costs. A remaining small number of consumers could see premiums rise but will have options to buy lower-cost metal-tier or minimum coverage plans, or use tax planning strategies to reduce costs.

If a consumer calls the main Service Center number, the caller will hear a brief message about the unit and can be directly routed to the Coverage Options Hotline.
Many of the questions received by this unit may require input or support from the health plan to address consumers’ detailed questions. Covered California representatives will be able to transfer consumers directly to health plan staff, or they can work with consumers on a three-way call.

Representatives are trained to speak with consumers to understand their situation, educate consumers about the Affordable Care Act and their options, calculate consumers’ eligibility for premium assistance or an affordability exemption, remind consumers of deadlines for getting insurance so there are no gaps in coverage and transfer consumers to health plan staff or arrange for a three-way call.

Covered California is also supplying information on helping these consumers to thousands of in-person assisters, including Certified Insurance Agents, Certified Enrollment Counselors and county eligibility workers.

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, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California 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 on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.