You can’t assume that all hospitals part of a larger network are all in-network with the same carrier if one is in-network. In Butte County, Blue Shield contracts with all the Enloe associated hospitals. But Anthem Blue Cross only contacts with Enloe Medical Center – Esplanade. The converse is also true. Blue Cross doesn’t typically contract with Sutter hospitals for their individual and family plans. However, in Amador County, Sutter Amador is an in-network hospital for Blue Cross.
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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.
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.
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?
By banning all short term medical plans, California is punishing people who are not out to manipulate the system for their own benefit. All they wanted was a little assurance that if something really nasty happened, they wouldn’t have to declare bankruptcy. Now these families, who just forgot about the enrollment deadlines, will be subject to the wolves of the health care field.
The limitations to the BlueCard program for 2019 on PPO plans means the out-of-area health care services are no different than Blue Shield’s Trio HMO plan for individuals and families. Unless the health care services are for emergency or urgent care they won’t be covered unless the member has prior authorization from Blue Shield of California.
Blue Shield individual and family plans also come with Teladoc for phone call consultations, NursesHelp 24/7 online chat, and the BlueCard program that allows member’s access to providers when they are travelling out-of-network. The plans also include a physician home visit. The home visit, Heal on-demand house calls, is subject to the member’s location. There is also Telebehavioral health benefit that helps members with mental or substance abuse challenges access therapy online with mental health professionals.
The final extra is the personal emergency response system (PERS). PERS is an emergency alert system that can be activated at the push of a button. It can work with an in-home landline, cellular network, and includes mobile GPS to identify the user’s location. The most advertised use for the personal emergency alert system is if the person falls and can’t get up. This can happen in the person’s home, while they out walking around the neighborhood, or hiking on a trail.
The big change for the Gold plan was an increase in the MOOP from $6,000 in 2018 to $7,200 in 2018. That is a 16% increase. Before 2018, the Gold plans did not make a lot of financial sense considering they were so much more expensive than Silver plans. In 2018 the Gold plan MOOP was reduced to $6,000 and the Silver plans offered through Covered California were artificially inflated by approximately 10%. This meant for consumers receiving very little monthly tax credit subsidy, they were better off enrolling in a Gold plan because for some carriers the rate was less than the Silver plan.