Change Plans After Automatic Renewal 2017
Covered California has made some changes on how to change a plan after a consumer has already been automatically renewed into their existing plan.
If you have selected or have been automatically enrolled in a health plan AND you have either selected a dental or Opted Out of coverage, the Change Plan link should be active on the right hand side under actions.
If you have been automatically renewed into a health plan for 2017 and you want to change that plan, you have to get to the correct page.
- Do not click on Report a Change for 2016. This link will make changes to your existing coverage.
- Select Report a Change from the list of links in the Actions box on the right hand side of the home page account page. Unfortunately, this doesn’t take you to any pages that allow you to actually change your plan. To force the Change Plan link, I’ve had to Save and Exit the Report a Change function and get back to the main home page for the account.
- Back at the home page, a new link should appear and become active titled Change Plans. Clicking on this link will eventually get you to the Change Plan Selection page. Click Change Plan Selection yellow button to get into the Shop and Compare pages where you can delete the selected plan and choose a new one.
Similar to 2016, if a consumer does not select a Dental Plan, the final enrollment box will not be checked marked. If a consumer enrolls in dental or declines dental coverage, then the Enrollment box will be checked marked.
Once you change plans, the health plan you were originally enrolled into will not show up in the shop and compare pages. This is to prevent duplicating enrollment with the same carrier.
Consumers, agents and Covered California representatives have been flummoxed over how to change the household health insurance plan after the account has been automatically renewed by Covered California for 2016. It may have come as surprise to Covered California that not everyone wants to renew their current 2015 health plan. After Covered California automatically renewed the health plan there is no visible way to change the plan…unless you know the trick.
Scaring people into buying dental insurance
Covered California has copied some of those sneaky website ploys that make you sign up for something you don’t want or need in order to get to the real goods. In this case, Covered California is trying to get people to enroll in the family dental plans. The Enrollment progress box won’t even show as being completed until the consumer either enrolls in the family dental or declines coverage. This has led some consumers to worry that their health insurance won’t be effective until they enroll in the voluntary and unsubsidized dental plans.
All health plans come with pediatric dental benefits. Your children already have dental insurance through their health plans.
The endless loop of no action
In order to activate the health plan change link in the Actions box, the household must either enroll in family dental or decline coverage. If you select Decline, you get hit with a pop up window that gives you the option to decide Later. If you click on the Decide Later, you are looped back to the same screen and you still can’t change the health plan.
Blue Shield plan termination
Some individuals that switched from a Blue Shield plan to another carrier AND did not either decline the family dental or enroll in a dental plan have not had their Blue Shield plans terminated for 2016. Covered California states that the enrollment is not complete until the primary applicant makes a decision on the family dental, to either enroll or decline. It seems as if Covered California does not send a termination notice to the carrier that the family is switching from until a family dental plan option is made. This was only determined from the experience of two former Blue Shield members who switched to a different carrier in 2016. One of the Covered California members had declined the family dental, completing the application, and Blue Shield had terminated the plan as of December 31. The other Covered California member had not declined dental and their Blue Shield plan was still active. We could only conclude that Blue Shield, and possibly other carriers, are not receiving a termination notice until the dental plan option is declined.
Dental insurance decision allows health plan change
If you need to change the health plan that Covered California has summarily renewed you into, and you don’t want dental insurance, you need to decline the dental coverage. This will trigger the Change Plan link to become active. Clicking on that link will allow you to make a change to your health plan enrollment for 2016. The cruel irony is that families may miss dental coverage because the decline it in order to change into a health plan they need to become effective January 1, 2016.
Dental insurance should be completely separate
Consumers have until the end of open enrollment to enroll in family dental. After open enrollment the dental coverage is closed through Covered California, but it is still available with the off-exchange dental plans. The family dental plan coverage should be decoupled from the health insurance enrollment. Covered California’s attempt to sell dental insurance – and they are selling dental insurance and they are paid by the carriers for each individual enrolled in a dental plan – they are necessarily making a complicated process worse.
Who does Covered California work for?
It’s rather insidious that Covered California is trying to push people into purchasing family dental. Consumers are just now learning about all the changes to the health plans. From changes to network providers, changes to the benefit structure, and some very steep premium increases, it’s just not a pro-consumer position to automatically renew consumers into their existing plans so early in open enrollment. And then to tie the changing of a consumer’s health insurance with a pitch for dental insurance seems like a desperate trick to sell the dental plans. It makes you wonder who Covered California is really working for the consumers or the insurance companies.
This information was brought to you after a three hour telephone wait on hold with Covered California and another fifteen minutes for the service center representative to have a supervisor tell him that you had to make a decision on the dental insurance before a consumer could change the health plan. I hope this post saves you three hours of frustration.