24 May 2013
They're here! I don't mean poltergeists in televisions either. Health insurance plans offered through Covered California were unveiled today in Sacramento for all curious Californians to purchase beginning October 1st, 2013. Until then, you can familiarize yourself with the plans and how much you'll save by enrolling.
Location will partially determine how much we'll pay for health insurance, similar to how Beverly Hills and its legion of luxury cars affects car insurance prices. But instead of defining rates by zip code, Covered California took a page out of the Hunger Games, breaking down the state into larger regions where rates differ. There are 19 regions overall. Los Angeles is separated into two regions, North and South (Regions 15 and 16, respectively) for example. Other areas consolidate multiple counties to form a region, such as Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, and Yolo to make Region 3.
The following link provides consumers a detailed look at how the new plans work and cost by region. By clicking the link you can scroll down until you see maps of California, then continue scrolling to find your region.
For a 21-year-old interested in the cheapest silver plan, expect to pay around $200 a month. Wait, I mean don't expect to pay that. The plans offered by Covered California come with a huge incentive: tax credits (called subsidies). When the same 21-year-old uses subsidies to lower his premium, the cost drops to just $44 dollars a month. But not everyone can get subsidies. To qualify, the applicant's or family annual income must be between 100 and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. You can determine if you qualify for subsidies by checking out this calculator (funded by a California Endowment grant). It'll even breakdown how much your subsidy will be for the average silver plan.
Plans are categorized by metal tiers. In ascending order of quality and cost, the metal tiers are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. These plans use cost-sharing to determine how much the consumer pays. Get the bronze plan and you'll pay 40% of your annual health insurance cost and the insurer will cover the rest. Silver, you pay 30% and they cover 70%. Gold, you pay 20%, they pay 80%. Get platinum and you'll pay 10%, leaving the remaining 90% of the bill for your insurer. That's a huge relief!
But don't expect to pay for every service you get. Thanks to Obamacare (Affordable Care Act), new coverage includes preventive care, meaning your annual checkup won't cost you like your current plan. Additionally, all plans selected by Covered California must meet new Obamacare standards and include essential health benefits: ambulatory service, maternity and newborn care, and prescription drugs, and much more.
Some of the biggest providers with the best networks of specialists and hospitals will offer quality health plans through Covered California, each mandated to include subsidized assistance to help lower the cost. Alphabetically, they are:
1. Alameda Alliance for Health
2. Anthem Blue Cross of California
3. Blue Shield of California
4. Chinese Community Health Plan
5. Contra Costa Health Plan
6. Health Net
7. Kaiser Permanente
8. L.A. Care Health Plan
9. Molina Healthcare
10. Sharp Health Plan
11. Valley Health Plan
12. Ventura County Health Care Plan
13. Western Health Advantage
Set your speed dials to 818.251.5000 to find out how to get these new, affordable plans!