Covered California will be updating their online account creation to include optional sexual orientation and gender identity questions. These optional questions will be made available to the consumer after the application has been submitted. The answers are confidential and not used to determine eligibility or health insurance benefits. The new demographic questions come with the CalHEERS release 17.6 to be implement on June 26, 2017. There will also be additional information for Medi-Cal, American Indian Tribe designation, and transgender options.
The process of applying for health insurance through Covered California requires the applicant to create an account, answer eligibility application details, and then submit the application for an eligibility determination. The CalHEERS program then returns eligibility determinations for different members of the household. This can range from the ability to enroll in a private health plan with the monthly tax credit subsidy or eligibility for Medi-Cal.
Optional Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Questions
After the application has been submitted, and eligibility results are shown, the consumer will have the ability to answer the additional LGBT demographic information. It is my guess that these optional questions were placed after the application is submitted and eligibility determined to signal to the consumer that his or her answers were not part of the eligibility determination. However, other demographic information such as ethnicity and language are asked before the application is submitted, but they have no bearing on eligibility or enrollment in a health plan.
Transgender Sex Question On Covered California Application
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. Covered California needs to make this clear to applicants. People arriving from other states or countries may not know about the non-discrimination laws of California.
Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Page
After the application is submitted, the applicant will get an additional and optional page of demographic information to answer.
Additional Demographic Information
What is your gender? (check the box that best describes your current gender identity)
- Transgender: male to female
- Transgender: female to male
- Non-Binary (neither male nor female)
- Another gender identity
What sex was listed on your original birth certificate?
Do you think of yourself as:
Straight or heterosexual
Gay or Lesbian
Another sexual orientation
Covered California has not stated who came up with the questions or how the data will be used. They have not stated how they may cull the results for answers from people who may falsely answer the questions for amusement.
Other updates to the Covered California application will include:
- Pregnancy questions will now display universally (not just for gender selection Female).
- Relationship Status Changes: The terms Collateral Dependent and Adopted Son/Daughter have been removed. In their place will be Other Relative and Son/Daughter, respectively.
- Removed the question: Does this child have a parent living outside the home, a deceased parent, or is the child adopted by a single parent?
Consumers applying for American Indian/Alaska Native health plans originally had to select the federally recognized tribe from a drop down list. A new option of Tribe Not Listed has been added.
A Medi-Cal Eligibility Confirmation page has been added. Consumers and their dependents who qualify for Medi-Cal, and needed health care services immediately, did not have a satisfactory way of demonstrating their potential Medi-Cal eligibility status when they applied through Covered California. A new confirmation page has been added that can be printed out and taken to the provider. It will note that the Benefits Identification Card (BIC) issued by the Department of Health Care Services will arrive in the mail in approximately 10 days.
Consumers determined eligible for Medi-Cal through Covered California must remember that the ultimate determination and enrollment occurs through their county Medi-Cal office. Consumers may still have to provide some verification documents such as income or citizenship before they are enrolled in a Medi-Cal HMO plan.
Finally, the Covered California account creation page has been updated. This is for the account holder who is not necessarily applying for health insurance, but is the primary contact. The question, “Do you have an Access Code to link an existing case to this application?” refers to when an application has been created by Certified Insurance Agent or Enroller. There is a specific Access Code that is generated. The primary contact or applicant can then create a Covered California account and link their account, with their own user name and password, to the application and enrollment already generated.
The new Account Creation page will have a user interface similar in look and feel to the updated income section of Covered California. They have consolidate some pages with the new design to make it less confusing to the consumer.
17.6 CalHEERS Release Notes and Documents