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The latest installment in our ongoing series, California takes the spotlight. Each week, we will check in with a handful of health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act and provide the latest available enrollment numbers, Medicaid expansion information and recent news highlights, among other important Obamacare details.
Exchange type: State-based
Medicaid expansion: Yes
Enrollment update: Covered California on Feb. 6, 2014, reported that 1,692,773 Californians had used the exchange to enroll in private health insurance coverage and Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, since open enrollment began Oct. 1, 2013. More than 170,000 individuals enrolled from Jan. 25, 2014, through Feb. 1, 2014, alone.1 Covered California releases new data every Tuesday on CoveredCA.com.
An estimated 5.3 million Californians are eligible for health insurance coverage through Covered California, and more than 2.6 million of those individuals may be eligible for premium assistance.2 For more than 4 in 10 uninsured Californians Medicaid or CHIP is “the main pathway to coverage” in 2014, according to an analysis from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.3 Of those eligible for marketplace coverage in California, 15.2 percent had enrolled, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data from January. The state ranked 5th in terms of percentage of eligible residents enrolled in exchange-based health insurance plans.4
Covered California offers health insurance plans from 11 carriers.5 In “These Health Insurance Companies are Winning at Obamacare,” The Huffington Post on Jan. 27, 2014, released an analysis of insurance company market share and enrollment in a handful of state marketplaces. The article looked at how competition among insurers can benefit consumers in the form of lower prices and more benefits. The report showed that Anthem Blue Cross of California, a WellPoint company, held 31 percent of Covered California’s half a million private insurance enrollments as of Dec. 31, 2103. In 2011, the company had 37 percent of the individual market. The following interactive infographic created by The Huffington Post compares 2014 and 2011 individual health insurance market share6:
In related news: On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, Covered California reported that it would pull the physician directory on CoveredCA.com until further notice due to listing errors. A news release from the exchange told consumers who selected a plan based on the provider directory to contact the health insurance plan and verify that the provider is in-network and stated that plans will work with enrollees on a case-by-case basis to resolve any problems.7
1Covered California. (2014, February 6) “Covered California Releases Statistics for its Health Insurance Marketplace for Week Ending February 1.”
2Covered California. (2013, October n.d.) “Health Insurance Companies for 2014.”
3The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2014, January 6) “How Will the Uninsured Fare Under the Affordable Care Act?”
4The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (n.d.) "Marketplace Enrollment as a Share of the Marketplace Eligible Population."
5Covered California. (2013, October n.d.) “Health Insurance Companies for 2014.”
6Young, Jeffrey. (2014, January 27) "These Health Insurance Companies are Winning at Obamacare." The Huffington Post.
7Covered California. (2014, February 6) “Covered California Takes Provider Directory Offline—Continues to Offer Links to Each Plan’s Providers.”
Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialties include health and fitness, wellness, sports and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventure. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA candidate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.