There a lots of different dental plans off-exchange or outside of Covered California. The number of plans makes comparisons complicated and confusing. Delta Dental and Anthem Blue Cross offer dental plans through Covered California and a variety of different plans off-exchange. The single largest difference between the Covered California plans and the ones offered off-exchange is the 12 month waiting period for major dental work such as extractions, root canals, and crown. The six month waiting period usually applies to minor restorative work such as getting a cavity filled.
Both Health Net and Blue Shield have wasted thousands of hours of time for consumers, agents, and their customer service staff. Tempers have become short and patience has run thin. And as of December 21st, a month after some people have applied for health insurance, 10 days before the plans are to become effective, many families don’t know if they will have insurance on January 1, 2018.
The health plans don’t recognize the invoiced amount of the health care services from out-of-network providers as either accruing toward the deductible or for their cost-sharing of 50% before the maximum out-of-pocket amount is met. The health plans apply a Usual and Customary Rate (UCR) or the Allowable Amount. This limits their responsibility for payment and increases the health plan members costs.
The health plans and Covered California may give lip service to the value of the agent community, but it is not reflected in the compensation we receive. I’m not trying to get rich as an insurance agent. My net revenue listed on my Schedule C for 2016 was $34,000. If the new compensation schedules significantly erode my insurance revenue then I will have to find other income streams. Maybe Covered California will hire me to answer phone calls; I hear they have a great benefits package.
If a consumer was in a market where the only choices were Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Blue Cross was the SLCSP (Blue Shield necessarily being the least expensive Silver plan offered) then these consumers may see their relative tax credit subsidy decrease. This will hold true if the Blue Shield plan, and now the only plan available, continues to have a rate lower than what Blue Cross would have had in 2018.
If you are going to be spending an extended period of time outside of your plan area, for work, vacation, or going to college, carefully review your plan’s Evidence of Coverage to make sure the BlueCard Program is part of the covered benefits. I was surprised to learn that both Blue Cross and Blue Shield HMO plans included the BlueCard Program for 2017.
For most Covered California consumers there will be only one PPO health plan to select. Blue Shield is the only health insurance company participating in Covered California that will offer a PPO health plan in the major metropolitan regions of California. While the PPO plan design signals to consumers that they have some freedom to use out-of-network providers, the Blue Shield benefits may be very restrictive.
Since the beginning of Covered California, many individuals and families have complained that some doctors refuse to accept health insurance purchased through Covered California. Most health insurance companies have stated that contracted network doctors can’t refuse to see Covered California members. However, Blue Shield of California seems to have changed their position on doctors refusing service. They are now stating, as of November 7th, that doctors can discriminate against individuals and families who have Covered California plans.
The Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), who regulates most of the individual and family plans offered through Covered California, has developed a website to allow consumers to compare health insurance companies. The Health Plan Dashboard website does not assign any performance review ratings. But it does give consumers a high level view of some of the data collect on the health plans such as enrollment, complaints, and enforcement actions for medical, dental, and vision plans.
The big headline in August was that Aetna would not be expanding their Obamacare individual and family plans in 2017. The smaller headline from a week earlier was that Aetna was seeking approval to become a Medi-Cal manage care health insurance provider in California. Just like other health insurance companies have found, welfare pays better than work when it comes to health insurance.