by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


Covered California

14 August 2014

Does Covered California Include Adult Dental Insurance?

Posted in Covered California

Does Covered California Include Adult Dental Insurance?

The average health insurance premium, at least for Covered California plans, will only rise 4% next year; way down from 2014's increase of 22% to 88%. That's after you factor in financial assistance. What about costs for adult dental insurance? Now that's a trick question. 

Last year adults complained they couldn't get dental coverage through Covered California. Pediatric dental was an essential benefit bundled in every plan, but anyone over 18 had to buy private insurance to see a dentist. 

According to Covered California's Director, Peter Lee, family and adult dental coverage will finally be offered through the exchange next year, albeit as supplemental insurance. 

Since the coverage will be add-on and not an "essential benefit" like pediatric dental, subsidies aka tax credits will not help pay for it. The costs haven't been determined, but will likely be disclosed by open enrollment season, which starts November 15, 2014. 

During open enrollment anyone can buy or switch insurance plans until February 15, 2015.

For now, early shoppers can see proposed rates for 2015-2016 here. Keep your eyes and mouth open for Covered California dental insurance details.  

05 November 2013

Covered California is Basically Behind Schedule in Everything

Posted in Covered California

Covered California is Basically Behind Schedule in Everything

Steve has been a customer of Blue Shield since he bought his dog, Blue in 1996. He just got a letter notifying him that his policy on December 31st will be cancelled because it doesn't meet new Obamacare standards. He and 100,000 more Blue Shield customers who received the same letter did not shake their tail, but Steve did wail.

In the letter, Blue Shield gave policy holders a 90 day notice of the cancellation. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones was livid. By law, carriers must give customers a 6 month notice.

Update: Blue Shield delayed its cancellation date. To avoid legal pursuit by Commissioner Jones, the carrier informed customers they must decide by December 6th to stay on their plan until March 31st, 2014 or look for new options starting January 1st, when new Covered California plans go into effect.

Blue Shield customers who are shocked and/or disappointed by their cancellations may find better plans and lower rates with premium assistance through Covered California, the state exchange.

Individual coverage is mandated under the Affordable Care Act through 2014. Those who don't seek coverage will receive a shared responsibility payment, i.e. tax on next year's tax return.

The exchange expected to hire and train over 20,000 Navigators (renamed Certified Educators) by July 2013. Navigators can be anyone who passes a background check, attends a 20-hour training session, and takes some online courses.

In late August, however, Covered California announced they would only train 16,000 by the end of the year. Then on October 30th, Covered California changed the number to only 5,000 to be ready by December 31st. According to Covered California's recent report, delayed training sessions, background checks, and computer glitches are to blame for the delays.

To help Covered California, insurance agents were asked to seek certification by meeting similar standards as Navigators. Unfortunately, the same delays resulted in 3,143 of the nearly 16,000 insurance agents who applied for certification as being fully certified by October 30th.

Haronian Insurance is fortunate to one of the few.

The proud. The fully certified.

Alameda Alliance, one of the major insurance carriers approved by the state to offer new, affordable health insurance plans with subsidies, was dropped by Covered California.

With few details released, Alameda Alliance missed the October 31st deadline to meet federal solvency requirements. According to the carrier, they were late because they needed additional time reviewing new rates offered by the state.

Covered California has not commented how the carrier slipped through the cracks before October 1st open enrollment began. Their PR department is probably swamped. No surprise.

02 October 2013

10 Obamacare Tips for all Ages and Incomes

Posted in Covered California

10 Obamacare Tips for all Ages and Incomes

   Breaking Bad started with a man diagnosed with cancer whose health insurance was too expensive. Isn't it serendipitous how the series finale ended the same week Obamacare began*? You've waited long enough: let's get to the Top 10 Obamacare Tips!

   1) Obamacare is also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    This is sometimes shorted to PPACA or Affordable Care Act or just ACA.

   2) *Obamacare has been the law since 2010.

    Some benefits (ex: kids staying on their parents' plan up to age 26) started sooner than others.

Other benefits start later: like on January 1st, 2014, all preexisting conditions must be covered by all insurance carriers at no added cost.

Most people say Obamacare began October 1st, but they really mean the biggest changes started.

   3) When someone mentions "Obamacare insurance" they probably mean new insurance plans in the exchange*

    Truthfully, Obamacare affects all insurance plans.

  4) *An exchange offers new health insurance plans, varied by state.

    Imagine an exchange like a call center for the DMV. The exchange will ask questions over the phone, enroll you in any insurance plan they offer, and mail you an insurance card.

Each state has its own exchange with its own name. For example, the exchange in California is called Covered California.

   5) Exchanges sell new plans. But they aren't the only place to buy them.

    Not everyone buys Coke from a vending machine. Likewise, not everyone will go to the exchange to buy insurance.

Insurance brokers and agents are more experienced than newly-hired Exchange workers, so most people will likely call an agent for faster, more convenient service.

    6) You may recognize new plans in the exchange.

    Major carriers: like Anthem, Kaiser, and HealthNet, competed to showcase their plans in the exchange. To be in the exchange, plans must have 10 Essential Benefits and premium assistance if you're low to middle income.

  7) Premium assistance lowers the cost for insurance and acts like a voucher.

    This is sometimes called subsidized insurance, a tax credit, or a subsidy. If you're under 65, don't qualify for Medicaid, and don't get insurance an employer, you may qualify for assistance if you buy an exchange plan.

Ask an insurance agent to help you enroll in an exchange plan. If you qualify for assistance, your premium will drop the day you enroll. Click here to calculate how much your premium assistance amount may be.

 8) Obamacare makes you buy insurance or pay a fine.

    The fine is $95 the first year, then sharply increases each year you're not covered.

  9) Not interested in exchange plans? There are still private plans.

    Insurance brokers and agents still offer private insurance plans. Likewise, plans in the exchange are also available as private plans (which means they don't come with premium assistance). Call an insurance agent for more details.

  10) You may keep your old plan. Your plan may also change.

    The only changes some plans will see are more benefits. As the healthcare system gets an overdue makeover, some plans will be reviewed to become more efficient and affordable. Ask an agent to review your plan for more details.

15 July 2013

California's Health Exchange Begins Training Educators

Posted in Covered California

    Summer school is here! That's what's written on the many calendars of organizations who will begin outreach and education for the Affordable Care Act (ACA, "Obamacare") this season. In May, dozens of organizations: unions, educational and government entities, and more received federal grant money to begin training in July by Covered California. Behold, Obamacare cynics: the school bus has arrived right on schedule.

    UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, who received over $1 million for outreach toward spanish-speaking residents, began training last Monday and continues Certified Educator schooling on their campus this week. What's a Certified Educator and where can one ride such a whimsical learning shuttle as seen above?

    Grantees committed to spreading the benefits of ACA will undergo 3 days of training to become Certified Educators. By this fall, over 2000 Certified Educators will know the ins and outs of healthcare reform to approach uninsured Californians and persuade them to get coverage: the goal of the Affordable Care Act. What other organizations applied for Certified Educator status? Anaheim Health Medical Center (AHMC) in San Gabriel received $500,000 to attract college students and families via health fairs to show off the new health law and its benefits. They will also be training Certified Educators this week.

    Covered California, the state's Exchange aka marketplace, will offer new plans starting October 1st with 10 essential health benefits and tax credits for those who qualify to lower the costs for health insurance. Catch up on class today by following our Covered California coverage here!

02 July 2013

Los Angeles Schools Paid to Teach Kids Obamacare

Posted in Covered California

Los Angeles Schools Paid to Teach Kids Obamacare

    Yes, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will use $900,000 to recruit Obamacare soldiers to sell insurance to their parents. That's how the news is being spun today. Way back in March, Covered California, our state's health Exchange, divvied up $43 million federal dollars to organizations who best outlined their Obamacare education strategies. The goal: to promote the healthcare reform law so the most people sign up for affordable health insurance in 2014. It wasn't until recently, when conservative shock jock and Obamacare opponent, Rush Limbaugh name-dropped Covered California that Angelenos took a closer look at where the money went.

    Just this week Rush called out Covered California for awarding LAUSD nearly a million dollars to train teenagers to school parents on the Affordable Care Act. He referred to Covered California's website, where each grantee briefly described how the award money would be spent. Check out LAUSD's synopsis below, which is all the information we have to go by so far:

    Assuming this outreach begins when school resumes this fall is all we can do at the moment. No adult in his right mind would imagine teens lining up for Obama's Summer School, after all.  Next year,  teenage messengers may be force-fed healthcare reform during school hours or sign up for after school programs by their own free will: who knows? Will some students be shocked to see Obamacare 101 on next year's schedule? Will practice health insurance applications replace homework? It's just too early to say. So why react when we lack the syllabi?

    Extracurricular activities that empower kids might actually achieve Covered California's goal. Students may find out that their families qualify for subsidies (tax credits) to lower the cost for health insurance if they buy plans offered by Covered California. Did you know if your income is roughly between $11,000 and $43,000 you could get assistance paying for your coverage? Your tax dollars may very well be teaching others how to save money on health insurance next year. Don't you want to copy their homework so you can save too?