December 08, 2016
LAWT News Service
The political environment may be changing, but the health coverage realities for many people have not.
That is the message Covered California and its Certified Insurance Agents, Certified Enrollment Counselors and other Certified Enrollment Entities are delivering to the remaining uninsured as the Dec. 15 deadline to get coverage starting Jan. 1, 2017 approaches.
“People are worried about things changing,” said Henry Jin, owner of Henry Jin Insurance Agency Inc. in El Monte. “So we’re trying to educate people on what’s really going on. Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen, but we know there will be coverage in 2017.”
Enrollment for 2017 coverage began on Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31, 2017. But to have health insurance in place at the start of the new year, enrollment must be completed by Dec. 15. Plans offered through Covered California are name brand and in most areas of the state, there are three or more insurance carriers to choose from.
For Roberto Ortiz, co-owner of Ortiz & Associates insurance agency in La Puente, it has been a unique open-enrollment period. Ortiz, who has partnered with Covered California since its inception, said the first few days of enrollment were like a rollercoaster.
“In the first week, there were a lot of calls and traffic,” Ortiz said. “Then everything went quiet after the election, but as more information has become known, it’s gotten busier again.”
Covered California had more than 1.3 million consumers in 2016 and more than 2.8 million Californians have purchased health insurance through the exchange since it opened its doors in 2014. Covered California has helped reduce the state’s uninsured rate from 17 percent in 2013 to 7.4 percent in the first half of 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While plans in Washington, D.C. about the future of health care remain uncertain, the subsidies available to Californians to help pay for health insurance remain very much in place. Last year, financial help in the form of subsidies allowed nearly 200,000 Covered California consumers to pay less than $25 per month for their coverage. The average household received more than $5,000 in subsidies that year.
For 2017, most consumers can save up to $55 per urgent care visit and their copays for seeing their primary care doctor will also be lower. And, for consumers selecting Silver, Gold or Platinum plans, most of their outpatient services like primary care and specialist visits, lab tests, X-rays and imaging are not subject to a deductible. Emergency room visits for these plans are now a flat fee. Even consumers in Covered California’s most affordable Bronze plans are able to see their doctor or a specialist three times without having to meet their deductible. These changes for 2017 will help consumers save thousands of dollars.
Open enrollment continues through Jan. 31, 2017. Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to CoveredCA.com or call (800) 300-1506. Consumers must enroll by Dec. 15 to get coverage by Jan. 1, 2017.