- More than 92 percent of consumers can choose from three plans or more.
- Plan expansions and savings available through shopping show how the competitive marketplace is working.
- Uninsured rate has been cut in half in California since 2013.
- Nearly 80 percent of consumers can benefit from shopping.
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Amid news from the U.S. Census Bureau that the rate of California’s uninsured has reached record lows, Covered California’s third-ever renewal period began this week for its existing 1.3 million members.
Beginning this week, Covered California consumers will receive renewal notices indicating they can keep their current health plan or switch to another plan for 2017.
“This year, consumers can visit CoveredCA.com to explore their options for coverage in 2017,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Most of those renewing with us get subsidies that mean they are paying only a portion of the premium. But even without considering the subsidy, nearly 80 percent of our consumers will either be able to pay less than they are paying now for health insurance, or see their rates go up by no more than 5 percent if they shop and switch to another plan.”
U.S. Census Bureau data released in September shows the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has helped cut the rate of the uninsured in half in California, from 17.2 percent in 2013 to 8.6 percent in 2015.
Members renewing their coverage will have access to an upgraded shopping tool that enables them to see their current plan and 2017 rates highlighted side-by-side with their other insurance plan choices for next year.
“This feature will make it much easier for consumers to shop and compare before selecting a plan for 2017,” Lee said. “This is particularly important where there is a larger variation in premium increases than we’ve seen in prior years — with some plans raising rates by 5 or 6 percent, and others in the high teens.”
Earlier this week, California’s regulatory authorities completed their review of Covered California’s rates for 2017 and made a finding that they are not unreasonable.
In addition, the new Shop and Compare tool offers features to upgrade the shopping experience, including displaying health and dental plans separately, showing up to 12 product options on a page instead of three and offering more ways to filter plan choices for the consumer.
In 2017, Covered California will feature coverage from 11 health insurance companies: Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, L.A. Care Health Plan, Molina Healthcare, Oscar Health Plan of California, Sharp Health Plan, Valley Health Plan and Western Health Advantage.
In addition, some insurance carriers will be increasing their coverage areas, with Molina expanding into Orange County, Kaiser Permanente available in Santa Cruz County and Oscar offering coverage in San Francisco County.
With insurers entering new areas, almost all consumers (92.6 percent) will have at least three insurers to choose from in their region, and none will have fewer than two. In addition, more than 93 percent of hospitals in California will be available through at least one health insurance company in 2017, and 74 percent will be available in three or more plans.
Covered California has also improved its patient-centered benefit designs by increasing a consumer’s access to care through reducing the number of services that are subject to a consumer’s deductible. In 2017, consumers in Silver 70 plans will save as much as $55 on an urgent care visit and $10 on a primary care visit. In addition, consumers in Silver, Gold and Platinum plans will pay a flat copay for emergency room visits without having to satisfy a deductible, which could mean thousands of dollars in savings. Urgent care costs in every 2017 plan will be same as the primary care visit, resulting in significant consumer savings.
These improvements build on features already in place that ensure 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 allowed to see their doctor or a specialist three times before the visits are subject to the deductible.
Covered California members wishing to explore their options for 2017 should visit CoveredCA.com and sign in to their account. There they will see their current plan and have the option of shopping to compare other plans for 2017. Consumers who take no action by Dec. 15 will be automatically renewed into their existing plan. Consumers can also contact their Certified Insurance Agent or Certified Enrollment Counselor, or call Covered California at (800) 300-1506 for enrollment or renewal assistance.
Individuals who have health coverage through Medi-Cal renew their coverage throughout the year when contacted by Medi-Cal.
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.