by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


Covered California

11 June 2013

How Covered California May Insure Young Invincibles

Posted in Covered California

How Covered California May Insure Young Invincibles

    Soon we'll be bombarded from all media angles: radio, tv, newspaper, the sides of buses, billboards dotting Los Angeles, until we have health insurance. That's because the federal government is paying public relations group Weber Shandwick $12 million to advertise California's health Exchange, Covered California over the summer. But it's all for a good cause. To get an idea of California's strategy look no further than the first health health Exchange in the country, Massachusetts' Commonwealth Health Connector, which contracted Weber Shandwick for 6 years.

   When Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) became law in 2010, all states were mandated to create a public health Exchange (marketplace) to offer affordable health insurance plans to its residents. These plans will be available October 1st, 2013. Each plan must meet specific criteria: including essential health benefits, offer subsidies (tax credits), and show apples-to-apples comparisons to make shopping easier.

    Long before Obamacare was signed into law, Massachusetts experimented with healthcare reform in the form of Commonwealth Health Connector. Since this was a new concept way back when, the state needed some clever marketing for people to take notice. In the first year, Weber Shandwick's Health Connector marketing strategy dubbed the "Initial Push" cost $4 million and lasted from Fall 2006-2007. It targeted the uninsured, promoting the availability of new plans certified by the state, offering quality, value, and access to preventive care. Sound familiar?

Image by Mass Health Connector

   Mass' uninsured rate was 8.1 percent in 2005 and dropped to 5.7 during "The Initial Push" through 2007. While this was a significant drop, unfortunately the marketing just didn't strike a chord with the "Young Invincibles", who felt they didn't need insurance. Similarly, Mass residents remained uninsured because they still believed they couldn't afford it. Mass' Health Connector hashed out a new strategy, creating "edgy ads" to appeal to the sophisticated, stubborn youth during Phase 2 between 2008 and 2009. Even though this cost an additional $1.7 million, it arguably led to a much bigger uninsured drop: only 1.9% of the state lacked insurance by 2010.

Image by Mass Health Connector

    Today, 98.1% of Massachusetts has health insurance, the highest rate of coverage in the country and it's in part due to the hilariously-impaired cyclist with the mouth of a sailor as seen above. By creating similar ads with the same edgy humor Covered California and Weber Shandwick may just insure more Californians in the first year than proportionately Massachusetts did in the first 4 years. Shouldn't be too hard to come up with material, considering Los Angeles residents know the hardships of road/bike lane rage.

   To learn more about Obamacare: call us at 818.251.5000!

24 May 2013

Covered California Bans Health Insurance Hikes for Smokers

Posted in Covered California

Covered California Bans Health Insurance Hikes for Smokers

    Smokers have it rough according to a new study by a bunch of guys who called convenience stores in each state and asked the average price of cigarettes.

   For a single pack of Marlboro Reds in 2011, California was ranked #46 in most expensive at $5.19. Last year, through the same cold call analysis, the figure moved up as did California's rank to number #20 at $6.45 a pack.

   It's expected Los Angeles hipsters and chain-smoking celebrities may drive up the number even more in 2013 since the health insurance exchange, Covered California banned rate hikes for smokers interested in new health insurance plans.

Update: The cig tallymen revealed 2013's prices: a pack in California now costs $6.77, Rank #20.

    When Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) passed in 2010, insurers were permitted to charge smokers up to 50% more than non-smokers for monthly health insurance premiums at the state's discretion. The reason seemed just after a study by the Centers for Disease Control estimated smokers, who have increased risks in developing health problems, cost the country over $190 billion in healthcare costs and productivity losses (one too many smoke breaks).

    Fortunately smokers in California can breathe a sigh of relief (between puffs). Covered California banned charging smokers more and clarified only age, location, and income will affect an health insurance applicant's premium.

    Because time makes our body become more susceptible to disease and injury, age is one of a handful of factors which determines the cost for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

   In California, for example, an insurer can not charge an older adult of let's say 64-years-old more than 3 times what a 24-year-old pays for health insurance. Where you reside determines how much your premiums will cost, similar to how car insurance rates change by zipcode.

    Due to Covered California splitting the state into 19 regions, consumers will see a small difference in premium costs according to location. Los Angeles is broken into 2 regions and happens to have the lowest average premiums in the state for Covered California plans.

    Lastly income plays a huge role in how much health insurance costs. Covered California offers subsidies (tax credits) to qualified individuals and families who make between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level in order to lower the costs for health insurance. Click to calculate your subsidy. As you can see, there's no question about smoking status.

15 May 2013

Covered California Grant Awards Announced

Posted in Covered California

Covered California Grant Awards Announced

    May I have the envelope please! And the winners for the Covered California grant  for education and outreach totaling $43 million are the following: Well to be honest, the list is too long to post here but includes 48 organizations in California with backgrounds in education and outreach programs to deliver healthcare reform messages this year. You can see the full list by visiting Covered California's website here.

    By October 1st, 2013, each state must operates its own Exchange. Covered California, our state's Exchange, will use a combination of public booths, canvassers called "Assisters" and "Navigators", and their website to enroll millions of Californians in quality, affordable healthcare as mandated by Obamacare (Affordable Care Act).

    Unknown by many (which is exactly the reason for funding so many education programs), if individuals or families purchase health insurance through the Exchange they may qualify for subsidies (tax credits) to knock off a percentage of the cost for health insurance. This discount is automatically applied to your health insurance premium when you purchase health insurance through the Exchange. But before that time comes, Californians must endure a summer of education and advertisement heralding the Exchanges and benefits of enrollment.

    While specific details as to how the 48 Grantees will spend $43 million have not been released, brief outlines are available to see how each Grantee will target key demographics who lack health insurance: Latinos, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, to name a few.  One Grantee who received $1 million in grants, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), outlined a strategy to target residents in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Alameda County by conducting after school programs, reaching out to English As a Second Language (ESL) adult classes, and promoting healthcare enrollment through town halls meetings.

    Of the 48 Grantees, 42 put Los Angeles on its radar for education. Over 28% (2.7 million) Los Angeles residents lack health insurance. Latinos, who are the largest benefactors of health insurance subsidies through Exchanges, are targeted by 37 outreach programs, 32 programs will eye African Americans, Caucasians will be reached out by 24, and 11 for Middle Easterners. Don't feel left out no matter what background you're from, Obamacare messages will be ringing in your ears soon enough!

    For more questions about healthcare reform or to see if you qualify for subsidies, call 818.251.5000. Just want a free quote? Click below!

09 May 2013

Introducing Covered California

Posted in Covered California

Introducing Covered California

UPDATED: See new Obamacare individual and family plans here.

UPDATED: See new Obamacare small business plans here.

    On October 1st, open enrollment begins for the health insurance marketplace (Exchange) known as Covered California, continuing through March 31st, 2014. What happens when the Exchange closes and you're left outside, wandering the streets of Los Angeles without insurance? As mandated by Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), Americans must carry coverage through 2014 or pay an annual tax. If you have insurance already: great! There's nothing you need to do. Still want to shop around? Please continue reading!

    When earlier this spring Jurassic Park 3D debuted in Los Angeles, the state's Exchange, Covered California debuted its first town hall meeting in Riverside, California. Seats filled with insurance brokers from Los Angeles, teachers out of Riverside, and curious consumers across California: all engaged to learn the basics to Covered California. We were happy to be the last speakers at such a milestone event.

Above: A family of 4 enters the new marketplace, Covered California.

    Signed into law on March 23rd, 2010, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires each state organize an Exchange. On May 23rd, Covered California unveiled Obamacare health insurance through the Exchange, called Qualified Health Plans (QHPs). These plans are federally-required to be affordable for low to middle income consumers and contain 10 Essential Benefits.

    At Haronian Insurance we are Covered California Certified Agents, meaning we offer new Obamacare plans at an affordable price as well as traditional private insurance. Don't want to call the state call center or figure out the state website? Let us enroll for you and find the best plan out there.

    Covered California will make health insurance available for everyone, but as an added bonus, over 3 million Californians will qualify for tax credits ("subsidies") if they purchase Exchange health insurance plans. Beginning October 1st, tax credits will instantly lower the cost for health insurance if you qualify and enroll. What an age we live in!

    To keep it simple, individuals and families who make between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) qualify for subsidies. For individuals, that's around $14,000-$44,000. For a family of four, it's between $30,000-$92,000. Below shows the estimated monthly premium (in black) for a 40-year-old once subsidies (shown in "dollar bill green") are applied.

    Wish you attended Covered California's Riverside town hall meeting? Another meeting for Covered California in San Jose happens, May 10th, and Haronian Insurance will attend if you have any questions. Check it out by registering at 888.975.1141.

    Don't be left uncovered this fall, especially if you qualify for tax credits. To find out how much you can save on health insurance call 818.251.5000 or click below for a free quote!

20 April 2013

Wal-Mart Teams Up With California's Health Insurance Exchange?

Posted in Covered California

Wal-Mart Teams Up With California's Health Insurance Exchange?

    California has a mission this summer: to educate everyone on healthcare reform. If you’re one of the millions of Californians who frequent Wal-Mart’s 350 locations in the state, expect to add one more purchase to your shopping list: health insurance.

    Wal-Mart recently showed interest in opening kiosks promoting Covered California’s health insurance plans by October 1st, 2013 when state-run health insurance Exchanges are set to be operational. By this date, Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) mandates each state must open an Exchange, which is a state-run health insurance program (or federally-run for 33 states who chose not to operate their own Exchange) offering varieties of health insurance plans that consumers may purchase. These plans are set to be high quality, low cost and benefit the middle class and lower income individuals and small businesses who typically avoid purchasing health insurance because of their traditional high rates.

    Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) mandates everyone buy health insurance by January 1st, 2014 or pay an annual penalty tax that increases every year one lacks health insurance coverage. By setting up informational kiosks at Wal-Mart and unleashing canvassers known as “Assisters”, educators who enroll consumers and are compensated $58 per application, the Exchange hopes to tap into the lower and middle class Wal-Mart shoppers who benefit the most from Obamacare.

    The plans offered by the Exchange are set to exceed standard health insurance offered by Wal-Mart itself. The retail giant is notorious for cutting employee hours and providing sub par health insurance to workers. Its “Value Plan”, which has a $25,000 insurance cap hardly covers individuals who could become sick or injured. Recently, Wal-Mart even planned to cut employee hours below 30 per week. Obamacare mandates all businesses with over 50 employees offer health insurance to those who work at least 30 hours weekly. The average Wal-Mart employee earns $20,000 annually. By losing hours, employees who don’t qualify for benefits may still enroll in taxpayer-sponsored Medicaid. But that’s just Wal-Mart’s way of passing the expenses to us instead of paying for their own employee’s benefits. How many people are switching to Target today?

    Critics of Wal-Mart’s alleged Covered California participation believe its participation in promoting government-sponsored health insurance is contradictory to Obamacare’s mission: to fix the broken healthcare system. But the Exchange really just wants to educate as many Californians about healthcare so they enroll in low cost, high quality health insurance. The more Americans are covered, the more the scales of affordability balance and health insurance rates stabilize. We’ll just have to wait and see how long it takes. In the meantime, cleanup on aisle 7.

   For more questions on healthcare reform or to find affordable rates before Wal-Mart volunteers hound you this summer, call us at 818.251.5000 or click below for a free quote!