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Update: Individual Health Insurance Landscape in California

Update: Individual Health Insurance Landscape in California

Posted Oct 03, 2014 by Jenifer Dorsey

When Obamacare’s open-enrollment period began Oct. 1, 2013, California launched Covered California, its state-based health insurance exchange. The Golden State also expanded its Medicaid program in 2014.

California’s Obamacare exchange recently gained national recognition when officials announced the expansion of its dental insurance options. Those who enroll in 2015 health insurance coverage through the Covered California exchange may also buy family dental insurance plans that offer dental coverage for adults. Furthermore, all individual health insurance plans offered by Covered California will include pediatric dental benefits for those younger than 19 years old.1

Below is a roundup of California’s exchange enrollment numbers, carriers on and away from coveredca.com, and a look toward 2015.

Latest 2014 California health insurance enrollment numbers
Nearly 1.4 million Californians selected individual health insurance plans through the federally facilitated exchange during open enrollment (Oct. 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014) and through the special enrollment period that ended April 15, 2014.2 These numbers exceeded projections by more than 815,929 enrollees.3

According to Covered California enrollment data4:

  • More than 1.2 million or 88 percent of Covered California private health insurance enrollees were eligible for financial assistance
  • 1.9 million people enrolled in Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, through the end of March 2014—1.1 million of them enrolled through the Covered California portal and county offices
  • Latino enrollment accounted for 28 percent of total enrollment
  • Young adults ages 18 to 34 accounted for 29 percent of consumers who selected a Covered California health insurance plan
  • 36 percent of those newly enrolled in Medi-Cal were young adults age 18 to 34
  • 1,156 small businesses, representing about 4,900 employees and their dependents, enrolled in coverage through Covered California’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) through March 31, 2014

These numbers only account for those who selected health insurance through Covered California and does not account for those who purchased private health insurance away from the exchange in California’s private health insurance marketplace.

California health insurance carriers on and off the exchange
California residents looking to buy health insurance on or away from Covered California have several options. However, not all carriers sell health insurance plans statewide. Carrier presence will vary by region.

Covered California’s exchange will include plans from the following 10 carriers in 20155:

  1. Anthem Blue Cross of California
  2. Blue Shield of California
  3. Chinese Community Health Plan
  4. Health Net
  5. Kaiser Permanente
  6. L.A. Care Health Plan
  7. Molina Healthcare
  8. Sharp Health Plan
  9. Valley Health Plan
  10. Western Health Advantage

Companies that sell individual health insurance coverage in the state of California include the following, according to the California Department of Insurance6:

  • American National Insurance Company
  • American National Life Insurance Company of Texas
  • Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company
  • Assurity Life Insurance Company
  • Blue Shield of California Life and Health Insurance Company
  • Celtic Insurance company
  • Central United Life Insurance Company
  • CIGNA
  • Connecticut General Life Insurance Company
  • Genworth Life and Annuity Insurance Company
  • Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company
  • Health Net Life Insurance Company
  • Time Insurance Company

Californians who wish to buy health insurance coverage away from the Covered California exchange may visit respective carrier websites or contact them directly to find out if they will offer 2015 health insurance plans in the private marketplace.

Will 2015 rates increase in California?
In late July 2014, Covered California officials announced 2015 premium rates for health insurance plans offered through the state’s exchange and touted low increases for most consumers.7 The statewide weighted average rate increase was 4.2 percent. Furthermore, officials projected that federal subsidies will increase or remain “very close” to 2014 in most parts of the states.

How can Californians who missed 2014 open enrollment get health insurance?
There are some options outside open enrollment. Visit CoveredCA.com or contact a health insurance agent to determine whether or not you qualify for a special enrollment period in which you may enroll in health insurance that qualifies as minimum essential coverage.

If you do not qualify for special enrollment, you may consider a temporary health insurance plan until you can begin ACA-compliant health insurance coverage in 2015. Visit healthedeals.com to learn more about temporary health insurance options, get a quick quote, and apply and enroll within a few minutes—coverage begins as early as the next day.
 
While temporary health insurance plans are not ACA-compliant and will not prevent you from owing a tax penalty, they do offer short-term health insurance benefits—as few as 30 days—to help pay for unexpected medical expenses.
 
Call 888-839-7679 to talk to a healthedeals.com health insurance agent about your temporary health insurance options, as well as your individual health insurance options on and away from the state-based and federally facilitated exchanges.

A SHORT TERM HEALTH BENFIT PLAN IS NOT INTENDED TO QUALIFY AS THE MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE REQUIRED BY THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA). UNLESS YOU PURCHASE A PLAN THAT PROVIDES MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACA, YOU MAY BE SUBJECT TO A FEDERAL TAX PENALTY. ALSO, THE TERMINATION OR LOSS OF THIS POLICY DOES NOT ENTITLE YOU TO A SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD TO PURCHASE A HEALTH BENEFIT PLAN THAT QUALIFIES AS MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE OUTSIDE OF AN OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD.  THIS POLICY INCLUDES A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION EXCLUSION PROVISION.


Legal Disclaimers

1 Covered California. “Covered California Daily News: Covered California Plans to Offer Expanded Dental Services for Children and New Coverage for Adults.” CoveredCA.com. Aug. 20, 2014.
2 Covered California. “Covered California’s Historic First Open Enrollment Finishes with Projections Exceeded; Agents, Counselors, Community Organizations and County Workers Credited as Reason for High Enrollment in California.” CoveredCA.com. April 17, 2014.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 California Department of Insurance. “List of Health Insurers Providing Individual Coverage.” Insurance.CA.gov. N.D.
7 Covered California. “Covered California Announces Rates for 2015; Rigorous Negotiations with Health Insurance Companies Keep Rate Increases Low and Choices Robust.” CoveredCA.com. July 31, 2014.

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.