05 November 2013
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.