The question no one can answer for me is if the expanded Medi-Cal HMO capitation rates have been decreasing because there are more healthy people in the Medi-Cal pool? Or are there other factors that are driving down the rates. There must be good money in Medi-Cal as Aetna, Blue Shield, and United Healthcare have all been approved to offer Medi-Cal HMO plans alongside other private health insurance companies such as Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser, and Molina.
For a single adult applying through Covered California, the monthly income must be greater than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level ($1,397 monthly, $16,754 annually) in order to qualify for private health insurance with the premium tax credit subsidy. If the individual or household is below 138% of the FPL, they will be deemed eligible for Medi-Cal.
A significant drop in household income does not qualify you to apply to Covered California for the tax credit subsidy to lower your monthly health insurance premium. If you are already in Covered California, you can report a change of income and then select a different health plan.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the Covered California application for the consumer is creating a password. The rules are very strict and have not always been adequately explained. Covered California has included more information to help consumers create a password when they have to reset it. The biggest complaint after the password has been rejected is that the system tells the consumer that the pass word cannot contain a dictionary word. You would be amazed at how many two letter combinations actually are words found in a dictionary. Hint: don’t put two letters together when creating a password. Always have letters separated by a number or special character.
I find it amusing that the strategy to kill off government funded and managed health insurance for people may be the very illustration and demonstration of how single payer can work. The added benefit is a nod to the fact that, if included, volunteer work or family care work is treated as equally valuable as a wage earning job for eligibility for Medicaid. This is an acknowledgement that people volunteering in our communities plays an important role in the maintenance of the community fabric.
I don’t mind enrolling people into Medi-Cal. I’m a one-person operation and I enjoy chatting with people. But I have to draw the line with people who insist on me answering a million questions and then failing to give me the appropriate information to complete their Covered California Medi-Cal eligibility application. I also will not knowingly participate in any misrepresentation or fraud so a person can either be enrolled in Medi-Cal or be determined eligible for the tax credits through Covered California.
Finally, some folks are considering just enrolling in Medi-Cal because they are eligible. They have very little or no income to report on their taxes because they are living off of savings, interest, and dividends. Here again, Medi-Cal would be used as a containment strategy to an unexpected accident or illness. Medi-Cal is typically a HMO plan which requires a Primary Care Physician to make referrals to specialists, order tests, or imaging.
One of my clients received a letter from Covered California notifying her that her monthly premium would jump from $63.64 to $993.45 per month. The letter casually stated that the premium increase was 147.2%. The client is a household of two people one eligible for Covered California and the spouse is on Medicare. When I went through the renewal procedure on the updated Covered California website, I had to re-confirm that the spouse was on Medicare. The final eligibility results were that the Medicare spouse could select a plan at the full premium amount while the primary applicant could select a plan with the monthly subsidies.
If Bribes are a legitimate source of income for Medi-Cal why not for Covered California I thought? When I checked the 2016 Covered California Countable Sources of Income table, Bribes was suspiciously missing from the list. Why is Covered California hiding this significant source of income for many politicians from their consumers?
One of the first changes consumers and agents will notice is under the information for household members. For the question of Sex (which should be gender), in addition to Male and Female, the drop down box will include Transgender: Male to Female and Transgender: Female to Male. While selecting the Sex is required, the Covered California application does not alert the consumer to the fact that rates are not based on gender AND you cannot be denied health insurance or receive a higher rate because you are transgender.