SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced Thursday that 495,073 people selected health plans during the open-enrollment period ending Feb. 22, 2015. This year’s mix of enrollees is a more diverse and younger population whose choice in plans demonstrated that pricing is a big factor.
“New enrollment for 2015 coverage is strong and has brought in consumers who our marketing and outreach targeted,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “It is clear Latinos, African-Americans and young adults not only heard, but acted on Covered California’s increased advertising and person-to-person outreach.”
Nearly nine out of every 10 new enrollees qualified for some level of financial help for 2015. New enrollments of subsidy-eligible Latinos surged 6 percentage points — from 31 percent in 2014 to 37 percent of the overall subsidy-eligible enrollment in 2015. The percentage of African-American new enrollees who are subsidy-eligible rose from 3 percent in 2014 to 4 percent in 2015. Young adults 18 to 34 years old moved ahead 5 percentage points in California, to make up 34 percent of new enrollees in 2015, compared with 29 percent a year ago.
Enhancements made by Covered California after the first open-enrollment period — including increased Service Center hours, staffing and more bilingual enrollment assisters — were instrumental in driving strong enrollment numbers. The Service Center handled more than 1.3 million calls from November through February — more than twice the number it did for the same months during the first open-enrollment period. In February 2015 alone, Service Center representatives provided assistance to more than 440,000 callers, compared with 153,000 in February 2014.
Covered California ended its second open-enrollment period Feb. 15 but allowed consumers until midnight on Sunday, Feb. 22, to complete their applications for coverage. (This deadline had been Feb. 20 but was extended by two days to align with the deadline adopted by the federal government.)
“Consumers needed personal assistance from more than 20,000 Certified Insurance Agents, Certified Enrollment Counselors and enrollers at the Covered California Service Center to help them get across the finish line,” Lee said.
During the three-month open-enrollment period, 43 percent of all consumers enrolled for coverage with the help of a Certified Insurance Agent. Another 30 percent of consumers self-enrolled through the Covered California website, while Covered California Service Center representatives enrolled 13 percent, Certified Enrollment Counselors and Navigators enrolled 10 percent, and Certified Plan-Based Enrollers enrolled 4 percent.
Of the subsidy-eligible consumers who enrolled in the exchange, about 63 percent of the total signed up for a Silver plan, the second-least-expensive plan of the four metal tiers.
Among the 10 participating health insurance companies, Kaiser Permanente had the largest percentage increase in new enrollees. It captured 28 percent of the total, compared with 17 percent during the 2014 open-enrollment period.
“Our work in transitioning California from a culture of coping to a culture of coverage is paying off, but we know we are still in the early days of what is a long-term commitment to continually reach out to California’s diverse populations, who have new coverage options,” Lee said. “We look forward to learning from this second round of open enrollment and first-ever renewal process ways in which we can improve our marketing, outreach and retention.”
Meanwhile, more than 779,000 consumers enrolled in Medi-Cal from Nov. 15 through Jan. 31. Medi-Cal enrollment continues year-round.
For detailed enrollment data and demographic breakdowns, see the tables on the following pages and the graphics online at www.CoveredCA.com/news/PDFs/OE2-one-sheet.pdf.
Covered California is currently offering consumers who did not realize there was a tax penalty in 2014, or learned they may face a penalty in 2015, a time-limited opportunity to enroll during special enrollment. Through April 30, 2015, consumers are eligible to apply for health coverage during special enrollment. Applicants must attest to the fact that they did not realize there was a tax penalty by selecting “Informed of Tax Penalty Risk” within a dropdown menu at CoveredCA.com.
The following tables include subsidy-eligible and non-subsidy-eligible individuals combined:
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. 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 about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.