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Applications submitted to Covered California in October and November are missing agent designations and have corrupted household information when received by one of the insurance companies. It is hard to know if these data corruptions are an aberration or if the problem may be more widespread in the Covered California system. The bottom line is that these individuals have received no billing information from the carrier and the agent is not the broker of record.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones continues to wage not only a regulatory turf battle with Covered California over the issue of policy cancellations, he is also waging a war of words. No sooner had the California Health Benefits Board voted to continue with the planned cancellation of health plans for December 31st, Commissioner Jones fired off a press release to announce how unhappy he was at the Board of Covered California.
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.
We can be fairly certain that the big push to enroll college students into new ACA health plans will result in a large portion of the students channeled into Medi-Cal plans. It is estimated that are 480,000 young adults age 19-29 that will be eligible for Medi-Cal2. If we assume a full-time student is able to work 20 hours per week, that monthly wage still puts them below the 138% of the federal poverty line ($15,865) and automatic Medi-Cal.
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.
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.