The goals of Prop 8 sound good: better patient care and lower costs. Basic economic theory suggests that artificially regulating prices lower leads to shortages. We cannot force the current dialysis clinics to become nonprofit organizations. Just like large retailers close under-performing brick and mortar stores, I would expect no less from the CEO of a dialysis company to close those locations whose primary insurance payer were on the lower end of the reimbursement scale such as Medi-Cal or Medicare.
For individuals transitioning into Medicare in 2019 they will see a higher Part B premium. The new Part B premium will be $135.50, up from $134.00. Many Medicare beneficiaries already in Medicare will not pay the full Part B premium because certain provisions limit the Part B premium increase to be no greater than the increase in their Social Security benefits.
By paying for prescription drugs out-of-pocket, and not having them accumulate toward the maximum out-of-pocket amount for the health plan member helps the insurance company, not the consumer. Not having the drug costs go through the health plan could cost the consumer thousands of extra dollars in health care expenses because they did not meet their maximum out-of-pocket amount for the year.
For the family of a small business owner, the reduction of the MAGI because of the 20% deduction could drop any dependents under 18 years old into Medi-Cal. A family of four earning $70,000 makes all the household members eligible the tax credit subsidy through Covered California. If the family reduces their income by the 20% deduction, the new income is $56,000. That is below 266% of the federal poverty level for a family of four and all dependents 18 and younger are then deemed eligible for Medi-Cal.
Anthem Blue Cross started out as carrier with the largest enrollments in 2014 and 2015. They dropped to 26% market share in 2016. They dropped again 2017 down to 19%. Part of the drop, from my perspective, was related to the cost of the health plan versus their EPO network. People didn’t see the value of the smaller network and no out of network coverage relative to other alternatives. Then in 2018 Blue Cross pulled out of most of California. They offered plans only in region 1 (Northern California), region 7 (Santa Clara County) and region 10 (Central Valley counties). This dropped their market share down to 5%.
Kaiser Permanente has seen their market share increase with the Affordable Care Act. Their percentage of Covered California enrollments has steadily increased from 24% in 2015 to 33% in 2018.They have also been very stable in their plan offerings on and off exchange. Kaiser rates increased 3% – 7% in Northern California and 6% – 10% in Southern California in 2018. In 2019, the average rate increase will be 9% throughout California.
The Medi-Cal representatives also confirm that erroneous information can pop into Covered California applications after an individual or family has been terminated from Medi-Cal. Once a person is deemed no longer eligible for Medi-Cal, the SAWS Soft Pause is released and the individual and family can then enroll in a Covered California plan with the tax credit subsidy. Unfortunately, the data on the Covered California can be missing or in accurate from what was originally entered.
Health Net is making it easier to add adult dental and vision to their off-exchange plans. They call the added dental and vision benefits the Plus package. For the EnhancedCare PPO, PureCare EPO, and PPO plans the Plus package of dental and vision benefits is $14.42 per adult. The maximum dental benefit per year is $1,000. Instead of a member cost-sharing percentage these plans have a fee schedule. For example, a filling on one tooth would be $22.
Why should your employment dictate whether your health insurance is worse or exponentially better than your neighbors? Shouldn’t all health plans be the same? The human condition does not change depending on who you work for. The individual who works for the State of California, a union, or a self-insured plan can have the same health conditions as a self-employed individual. People routinely move from large group plans to individual and family plans and their health conditions don’t change. But the price and member cost sharing is far higher under small group and individual and family plans than it is with some of the union plans. Is that fair?
In another situation I, as the agent on behalf of a client, had made a routine address change. Everything was going smoothly until we went to update the plan selection. That’s when we got the error message. Nothing I could do (logging out of the system and logging back in) changed the error code. We could not select the plan for the new region the clients were moving to.