Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Milestone Enrollment Numbers Released By Covered California and Department of Health Care Services


More Than a Half-Million Californians Enrolled in Covered California Health Insurance Plans Through Dec. 31, 2013 -- January Enrollment Pushes Total Beyond 625,000; Medi-Cal enrollment under the Affordable Care Act tops 1.2 Million


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California™ and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) announced today that 500,108 Californians enrolled for health insurance and selected plans through the end of 2013 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 584,000 applicants were determined likely eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. DHCS also transitioned 630,000 individuals into the Medi-Cal program from the state’s Low Income Health Program.

The statistics, reflecting enrollment activity from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, show that the demand for health care coverage in California remains strong. And the preliminary total of enrollments in Covered California health insurance plans from Oct. 1, 2013, through Jan. 15, 2014, has increased to more than 625,000, demonstrating continued vigor in the new insurance marketplace.

“We’re encouraged by the outpouring of interest and participation in the state insurance exchange,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “While our objective is to insure all eligible Californians over time, independent estimates for Covered California’s subsidy-eligible enrollment by the March 31 deadline range between 487,000 and 696,000. These impressive numbers for the first half of open enrollment and the continued momentum in January tell us we are on track to meeting, if not beating, those enrollment estimates as we continue to pick up steam.”

Lee noted that of those enrolled so far, 424,936 are eligible for subsidies.

“We are pleased that Californians — many for the first time — are getting quality, affordable health insurance to protect themselves and their families,” Lee added.
Toby Douglas, director of DHCS, which oversees the Medi-Cal program, said the department expects the high demand for health care coverage to continue.
“It’s exciting to see that our joint effort is still going strong and giving more Californians in need a new opportunity for coverage under Medi-Cal,” said Douglas. “With year-round enrollment for our program, we look forward to gaining new members throughout 2014 and beyond.”

Douglas noted that the former members of the LIHP program and members now newly eligible because of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion will receive high-quality care from Medi-Cal managed care health plans. The selection of health plans varies by county and includes many of the health plans offered to those who purchase coverage through Covered California.

From the Oct. 1 launch of the Covered California enrollment portal through Dec. 31, online applications were started for an estimated 1,993,012 individuals seeking coverage. In the month of December, 400,096 individuals were enrolled in subsidized or unsubsidized coverage through Covered California, soaring past November’s enrollment of 78,377.

Medi-Cal achieved similar numbers in December, with 405,000 applicants found likely eligible for coverage, far more than the 108,000 during November. For the three-month period October-December, a total of 584,000 applicants were determined to be likely eligible for Medi-Cal through the enrollment portal.

Enrollees in Covered California health insurance plans who paid their first month’s premium received health care retroactive to Jan. 1, but the enrollment period continues through March 31, so consumers are urged to sign up for coverage in 2014.

“The level of interest is impressive, but consumers now need to take that crucial step of paying their plan so their health coverage can take effect,” Lee said. “To help consumers with this step, we’ve added a section on our website with information on how to make their payment. We’ve also unveiled bilingual ads reminding enrollees to pay their premiums.”

The December data show an improved trend in the number of enrollment and applications among Latinos.

Of the 395,614 consumers who identified their ethnicity, nearly 20 percent indicated they are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin. In addition, an estimated 30 percent of consumers who have applied but haven’t selected a health plan self-identified as Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin. This figure compares to the estimate that about 46 percent of subsidy-eligible Californians are Latino.

“We’re in the process of both fine-tuning the way we assess our enrollment demographics and, more importantly, building on our focus to ensure that more Latinos apply for and enroll in coverage,” Lee said. “We have much work to do over the next three months to build on our outreach to this important population and help those who have applied complete the process.”

Through Dec. 31, 125,033 consumers ages 18 to 34 enrolled for coverage, or 25 percent of the consumers enrolled. This age group represents about 25 percent of the state’s population but approximately 36 percent of those who are eligible for subsidies.   

Most consumers — 303,016, or about 61 percent — signed up for a Silver plan, the second lowest cost of the four plan tiers. About 85 percent of consumers across all metal tiers received some sort of financial assistance.

Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente and Health Net lead the way among plans chosen, collectively reflecting almost 96 percent of total enrollment.

In Covered California’s Small Business Health Options Programs (SHOP), more than 289 small businesses have applied for coverage, with all successfully completing their enrollment. A total of 2,155 employees and their dependents were provided coverage by their employer.

Consumers also are reminded that there are many paths to enroll in Covered California health insurance plans and in Medi-Cal, including in-person enrollment with assistance from thousands of trained Certified Insurance Agents, Certified Enrollment Counselors and county eligibility workers, as well as self-enrollment online. Consumers can find the nearest in-person assisters by visiting the “Find Local Help” page at CoveredCA.com.

Consumer response to the application process for Covered California and Medi-Cal has been positive. In the first three months, at least 60 percent of those who completed enrollment said it was “easy.”

“We are seeing heavy consumer activity on both our website and to our Service Center, and that’s a sign of the enormous interest in what we’re doing,” Lee said. “People obviously want health care coverage, so they can have the peace of mind and security they deserve. While many thousands have enrolled and gotten coverage seamlessly, there are undoubtedly Californians who have not had a good experience in getting coverage. We are working to learn and improve as we go forward.”

Here’s a sample of what people are saying through surveys and social media channels in December:

“Got my ID card! I just want to say thank you. Of all the many worries in my life, I no longer have to worry about health coverage. My career has been in a very unstable field — higher education, and this is a blessing beyond my expectations.” — Robin (via Facebook)

“I'll be meeting with my NEW Doctor ... Using my NEW insurance through Covered California!! Thank You ... SO GRATEFUL!!!” — James (via Facebook)

“My husband signed up and is saving $200/month with better coverage!” — Kathy (via Twitter)

“My cousin told me he enrolled in @CoveredCA. He hasn't had health insurance for the last two years and he's very happy to have it now.” — Jenya (via Twitter)

“It worked. I had my 1st doctor’s visit yesterday. Prescriptions transferred. I like my doctor too. Thank you!” — Pamela (via Twitter)

Monthly Enrollment Statistics
Oct. 1 - Dec. 31

Applications
Individuals
Total number of electronic applications initiated including Medi-Cal
1,107,229
1,993,012*
Completed applications
through Covered California  including Medi-Cal
771,008
1,456,909
Individuals determined to be eligible
for enrollment in Covered California

730,449
Enrollments in a Covered California
 health plan

500,108
Subsidized enrollments (those eligible for federal premium assistance, cost-sharing reduction) in a Covered California health plan

424,936
Non-subsidized enrollments in a Covered California health plan

75,172
Medi-Cal applicants**
(Includes individuals who are pending,
eligible and conditionally eligible
coming in through Covered California)

584,000
Medi-Cal transitions from
Low Income Health Program (LIHP)

630,000
* Estimated, based on an average of 1.8 individuals per application.
** Does not include applicants for current Medi-Cal coverage through county human services agencies. This category may also include some individuals counted in other categories above.

Total Enrollment Oct. 1 - Dec. 31
Subsidy-Eligible
Unsubsidized
Total
424,936
75,172
500,108







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.

About the Department of Health Care Services
The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) works to preserve and improve the physical and mental health of all Californians. DHCS provides health care services for more than 8.5 million Californians through Medi-Cal, including medical, dental, mental health, substance use treatment services and long-term services and supports. This is accomplished through an investment of approximately $70 billion annually in public funds for the care of low-income families, children, pregnant women, seniors and persons with disabilities. DHCS focuses on delivering quality, effective services primarily through the more coordinated systems of care provided by 21 Medi-Cal managed care plans located in all of California’s 58 counties. For more information about DHCS, please visit www.dhcs.ca.gov