Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019. The final rule will mitigate the harmful impacts of Obamacare and empower states to regulate their insurance market. The rule will do this by advancing the Administration’s goals to increase state flexibility, improve affordability, strengthen program integrity, empower consumers, promote stability, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Because Peter did not have health insurance in the last 60 days, he technically doesn’t qualify to enroll in a health plan in California. But when Peter moves out to California, his job has not started and he has no monthly income, he is just living off of his savings until the job starts in early summer. Because Peter has no monthly income, he qualifies for MAGI Medi-Cal.
While it may seem like Covered California is big brother looking over your shoulder or studying your tax return in a darken closet with the flash light, they aren’t. They are able to let their computer software check discreet pieces of data that relate to your eligibility for health insurance and any premium tax credit. But no one Covered California is making any decisions on eligibility or tax credits for the past, present, or future, based on reviewing your tax return. They just don’t have access to it.
Once the document has been uploaded it will show up in the Documents & Correspondence table. You then want to go to the Action column, click on the drop down menu Select One, and select Submit as Verification Document. This will bring up a popup window (make sure you’re the popup blocker of your web browser is disabled) where you can select the household member, the document category, and the type of document being uploaded. Then click Submit.
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 glaring deficiency in the report is the failure to attribute any decline in enrollments, either on the federal level or at Covered California, to an improving economy. Unemployment is at record low percentages and more people are working for employers who offer group health plans. Covered California’s own small group plans have seen increased enrollment since its inception in 2014 and their budget report estimates continued enrollment growth.
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.
If you own a small business or receive income for a service you provide, and most likely file a schedule C with your tax return, you should consider having your estimated taxable income reviewed by your tax planner. The IRS has noted that as they develop guidance for all of the changes to the tax regulations for 2018 they will be posting them on their website.
The real looming threat is the loss of health plans participating in the IFP market. In 2017 three carriers dominated the market with 72% of the enrollments: Anthem Blue Cross 19%, Blue Shield 25%, Kaiser 28%. With the loss of Blue Cross in the major metropolitan markets such as the Bay Area and Southern California, two carriers, Blue Shield and Kaiser, are likely to command over 60% of the market place in 2018. If one of those two carriers determines that offering IFP plans is just too risky in 2018, it could lead to other carriers such as Health Net, Molina, or Oscar also pulling out of the market.