When your son or daughter is earning money from a job, but still living at home, it can be a bit confusing when applying for health insurance through Covered California. When do you count your child’s income for Medi-Cal or Covered California? Should your child have their own health plan? Do they file their own taxes? Are they still going to school?
So here is the third subsidy bonus for large families. Not only are you billed for only three children, but you get a larger subsidy based on the entire household size. When you combine that with the inflated Silver plan rates, relative to the lower off-exchange Silver plans, large families get a nice subsidy to lower their health insurance premiums. You don’t pay for any more than three children, but you get the Premium Tax Credit as if the whole family were being billed for health insurance.
Upon review, the consumer was now listed as an American Indian or Alaska Native, there was no selection for current health insurance or Medicare enrollment, and the application showed a higher income than we had estimated for 2019. This is not the first time I have seen individuals and whole families being flipped into American Indian or Alaska Native designation. As mentioned earlier, Covered California seems to automatically erase the current health plan information during the renewal. But this was not a renewal, just a correction to Medi-Cal eligibility.
The proposed rule is complicated and has many conditions and exclusions. Because of this complexity, many individuals and families with lawful permanent status, and enrolled in Covered California, or who have children enrolled in Medi-Cal, are fearful as being labeled as a Public Charge. Covered California has sought to allay the fears of people who might be affected by the proposed rule that their participation in Covered California and monthly premium tax credit subsidy they receive will not adversely impact their status.
Not all family members have to have the same carrier either. Some family members can enroll with a more expensive PPO plan while other individuals enroll in an HMO from the same company or completely different carrier. I have clients where some family members have chosen the Blue Shield PPO plan and other household members are with a less expensive Kaiser plan.
Once all the income is entered in the different sections of the Covered California application, the program has a little link titled, Click here if this looks wrong. That takes you to the Adjust Project Annual Income (PAI) window. You can then type in an amount that is higher or lower than the number calculated from the income sections. Unfortunately, once you have used the PAI feature, the Covered California system won’t alert you to the override if you need to update your income in the future.
Caution! There are known data miss-match issues between SAWS and Covered California CalHEERS software. When a consumer is released from Medi-Cal it is necessary to scrub the application and look for missing or inaccurate data and conditions. The missing data could prevent the individual or family from getting the subsidy. It could be as simple as the application no longer indicating that the consumer will file taxes. This is simply fixed by checking Yes, the consumer will file taxes. Both Covered California and Medi-Cal are working to resolve this issue.
If a consumer does not like their plan or rate, they must make changes to their account and actively renew their coverage by December 15th for a plan effective date of January 1, 2019. Changes to the account and plan selection between December 16th and January 15th will have an effective date of February 1, 2019.
For the family of a small business owner, the reduction of the MAGI because of the 20% deduction could drop any dependents under 18 years old into Medi-Cal. A family of four earning $70,000 makes all the household members eligible the tax credit subsidy through Covered California. If the family reduces their income by the 20% deduction, the new income is $56,000. That is below 266% of the federal poverty level for a family of four and all dependents 18 and younger are then deemed eligible for Medi-Cal.
Anthem Blue Cross started out as carrier with the largest enrollments in 2014 and 2015. They dropped to 26% market share in 2016. They dropped again 2017 down to 19%. Part of the drop, from my perspective, was related to the cost of the health plan versus their EPO network. People didn’t see the value of the smaller network and no out of network coverage relative to other alternatives. Then in 2018 Blue Cross pulled out of most of California. They offered plans only in region 1 (Northern California), region 7 (Santa Clara County) and region 10 (Central Valley counties). This dropped their market share down to 5%.