The steps for reporting a change in CalHEERS have been significantly reduced. It is no longer required to provide reason and event date information multiple times when reporting a change for your consumer like address change, income updates, etc. Currently, if a household reported a change, the user was prompted to enter the reason and date multiple times, and even when not warranted. This has been updated to only ask reason and date if a household member is to be removed from the application or the plan. If the member is a primary contact or primary tax filer or primary care giver, then an option will be provided to identify a current household member in the role.
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.
Another annoying change Covered California made was adding little pop-up windows asking for more information called One More Thing. After submitting a change to the income, Covered California wants to know if anyone is pregnant. The only way to get around this is to select the Edit button and select Nobody from the household member selection.
Previously, the CalHEERS application collected the same information for all consumers in a systematic, if non-user friendly process. The navigation and messaging provided in CalHEERS lead to frustration for many users. Also, there were some federal regulations that were not being met regarding the collection of information for some groups, such as veterans.
Now, the interface is easier to read and questions are user-friendly. Since not all questions are needed for all consumers, the application is now “dynamic” meaning questions that do not apply to a user are not displayed. This results in fewer questions and additional time savings for everyone.
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 has released new Job Aids that review and describe some of the changes they have made to their online enrollment application. Many of the new functions address deficiencies in the original software, other features to help consumers more easily report changes, and the new addition of enrolling in a family dental plan.
A pregnant Bay Area woman who applied for health insurance through Covered California in November and has yet to receive any notification from her selected health plan or Covered California must now consider cancelling her prenatal doctor visits for lack of insurance. When asked about the status of the woman’s application a Covered California call center staffer said that it can take weeks for the insurance companies to receive the application. Essentially, Covered California has decided to ignore the woman, her family and unborn baby.
Compared to existing small group quoting and enrollment systems from the insurers and the Cal Choice private exchange, the Covered California SHOP program seems a little clunky and unfinished. If an employer wants to realize the tax credits for contributing to employee health insurance premiums they have to have a small group plan through Covered California. Except for the option to purchase pediatric dental plans for dependent children, SHOP offers no adult dental or vision insurance.
Will the new healthcare reform insurance application (aka Obamacare) become a bureaucratic paperwork nightmare?