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Within the contract that all insurance companies had to sign to offer health plans through Covered California was the stipulation that the “contractor” (aka insurance company or health plan) cancel all outstanding policies that didn’t comply with the ACA by December 31, 2013.
Agents that are certified to sell Covered California health insurance sign an agreement which in part states that the agent will fairly represent all the different plans. I have faith that all the agents will accurately represent all the plans, but they are under various incentives and realities that may distort some agent’s presentations to clients.
Designating an agent to help you enroll in a new individual and family plan or a small group plan offered through Covered California is pretty simple. Not only can the agent help with the application when he or she is your designated agent, a health insurance agent also provides another level of customer service for future changes.
With the launch of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, now more than ever, consumers who seek out the knowledge, professionalism and experience of a licensed insurance agent need to be reassured that they aren’t drinking from a poisoned glass. In a modest attempt to help guide consumers to agents who won’t engage in misrepresentation or questionable sales tactics, I have developed a pledge and code of conduct surrounding the sales of ACA compliant health plans by agents.
Kaiser Permanente has put together a very simple to use Affordable Care Act tax credit calculator for small groups. The calculator only works for small business groups in California. It is not calibrated for non-profits which have a different tax credit allowance for employer contributions to employee health insurance for 2014.
Provisions within the Affordable Care Act will reduce accidental pregnancies that are at a higher risk to be aborted. With the increased availability of no cost contraception to women, pregnancies will be planned and abortions reduced. In addition, the financial uncertainties of carrying a pregnancy to term will also be reduced as all health plans will cover maternity benefits.
On a recent webinar, Chris Patton, Vice President of SHOP Sales and Agent Management for Covered California, reported that over 15,000 insurance agents have registered to become certified to sell both individual and small group health plans through the California health insurance exchange. Of those thousands of agents, less than 1700 had completed the necessary training for certification only days before the start of open enrollment. In addition, no agents will actually be certified as of the launch on October 1st because agent agreement has not been released.
Open enrollment for the new Covered California health plans launches October 1st. But you don’t have to rush into unknown waters and sign up for coverage that doesn’t start until January 1, 2014. Because these health plans are new, it would be prudent to avoid immediately enrolling until the health plans have been reviewed and all the details are known.
The misguided training was a missed opportunity to explain the importance of Covered California and how the ACA will help millions of people get access to affordable health insurance and quality care. Instead we were told that health plans were expecting lots of sick people to seek care and they were cutting back on their providers. You know, “those people” were going to use the system they had been shut of for years by insurance companies who were just “following the rules” of being able to deny sick people health insurance. It wasn’t the fault of the insurance company, one trainer opined.
Anthem Blue Cross California has released information regarding the coverage of medically necessary procedures to treat gender identity disorder, commonly referred to as a person being transgender. Effective immediately, all new and grandfathered plans will cover surgeries, hormone therapy and counseling associated with transitioning from the birth sex to the sex the individual identifies with.