Kaiser Permanente has seen their market share increase with the Affordable Care Act. Their percentage of Covered California enrollments has steadily increased from 24% in 2015 to 33% in 2018.They have also been very stable in their plan offerings on and off exchange. Kaiser rates increased 3% – 7% in Northern California and 6% – 10% in Southern California in 2018. In 2019, the average rate increase will be 9% throughout California.
The Medi-Cal representatives also confirm that erroneous information can pop into Covered California applications after an individual or family has been terminated from Medi-Cal. Once a person is deemed no longer eligible for Medi-Cal, the SAWS Soft Pause is released and the individual and family can then enroll in a Covered California plan with the tax credit subsidy. Unfortunately, the data on the Covered California can be missing or in accurate from what was originally entered.
Blue Shield individual and family plans also come with Teladoc for phone call consultations, NursesHelp 24/7 online chat, and the BlueCard program that allows member’s access to providers when they are travelling out-of-network. The plans also include a physician home visit. The home visit, Heal on-demand house calls, is subject to the member’s location. There is also Telebehavioral health benefit that helps members with mental or substance abuse challenges access therapy online with mental health professionals.
Covered California takes a dig at the federal government correctly pointing out that rate increases, because of the removal of the individual mandate, means the subsidy amounts for consumers in Covered California will increase, “…the federal government will end up paying an estimated $250 million more in higher tax credits.” The loss of consumers will also impact Covered California. They estimate that enrollment in Covered California could decrease by as much as 162,000 individuals. Covered California is funded by a health plan fee for every member who enrolls through Covered California.
Families don’t all have to be with the same carrier either. Some parents have chosen a PPO plan for their children because certain doctors who are treating their children are in-network with the PPO plan. The parents then choose a less expensive HMO plan for themselves. It could be that a family member needs surgery during the next year. That person might opt for a Gold or Platinum plan to reduce out-of-pocket expenses while the other family members hang out in the Bronze or Silver metal tier level.
One of the first filters in selecting an EPO or PPO individual and family plan, either through Covered California or off-exchange, is determining if your current doctor is in-network. For all the enhancements to online doctor directory search tools, they still suck. They are not consumer friendly. Consumers are given either too many conditions to select or the provider search tool offers too little information.
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.
Covered California has updated their online application and enrollment program to allow families receiving premium assistance to select different metal tier levels and health plans for each household member. Previous to this update, only households who enrolled without qualifying for premium assistance could split the family member up between different plans. Beginning August 1, 2016, families receiving Advance Premium Tax Credits to reduce their monthly health insurance bills will have more consumer choice.
There are a variety of reasons why a household member needs to be removed from a family’s Covered California account. In some unfortunate instances a family member has died. Other times a young adult ages-off the plan or a spouse gains other coverage such as Medicare.
The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has developed a Medi-Cal household size flow chart. The DHCS Guide for Calculating MAGI Medi-Cal Individual Household Size was originally developed to help county eligibility workers ascertain the actual household size under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) rules. The newly expanded Medi-Cal eligibility under the ACA revolves around on IRS definitions for tax dependents and non-filer rules. Because families can be so diverse and the rules regarding what constitutes a tax family so complicated, the flow chart for determining household size was created.