It is doubtful that in California individuals who remain unvaccinated would be slapped with a surcharge to cover the risk of future medical claims associated with treating a Covid-19 infection. That is not the way California approaches health insurance rates. However, the health plans can increase rates in regions that have demonstrated elevated health care costs and reasonably predict the higher cost trend to continue because of unvaccinated adults.
Health Insurance Rates
Posts related to the rates or premiums charged by health insurance companies for their health plans.
The ceremonial announcement of health insurance rate changes, usually a modest increase, is meant for the consumption of politicians, elected officials, regulators, special interest groups, and the media. You know, all those people who have group health insurance and are not subject to the vagaries of the ACA subsidy calculation. The reality of what most consumers pay for their health insurance through Covered California is far more complicated than a celebratory press briefing announcing a 1.8 weighted average percent increase.
The 56-year-old San Mateo County resident purchased health insurance through Covered California in 2020 and 2021. The estimated income was $45,000. In 2020, after the Covered California subsidy, the individual paid $109.98 per month for the Kaiser Silver 70 plan. In 2021, the Kaiser Silver plan jumped to $285.71, a 160 percent increase over the prior year.
The big unknown is how you will use health care services in the next year. If you historically visit a doctor for the occasional sports injury, allergies, or to have wax removed from your ears, even if you visit the doctor more than 3 times (the Bronze 60 limit), you may still be money ahead with the Bronze plan.
Therefore, I request that all health insurance and specialized health insurance companies provide their policyholders with a partial premium refund no later than December 31, 2020. These refunds should be reflected in the November or December 2020 premium statements sent to policyholder or certificate holders, if refunds have not already been issued.
Why can’t people who earn too much money to qualify for either MAGI Medi-Cal or the subsidies through Covered California just be allowed to pay the monthly capitation rate for these plans? They are less expensive than private insurance and would offer some protection from the corona virus health care costs.
The first comparison was of two individuals at a Sacramento company enrolled in a Sutter small group HMO Silver plan. The rate for the 60-year-old employee is $838 and $688 for the 56-year-old employee. An IFP Silver plan directly from Sutter Health Plus HMO is $1,115 for the 60-year-old and $958 for the 56-year-old. The IFP rate is 25% and 28% higher than the small group plan at the respective ages. The lowest IFP plan available to these employees in the Sacramento region is a Kaiser Silver HMO plan at $990 for age 60 and $851 for age 56.
For individuals transitioning into Medicare in 2019 they will see a higher Part B premium. The new Part B premium will be $135.50, up from $134.00. Many Medicare beneficiaries already in Medicare will not pay the full Part B premium because certain provisions limit the Part B premium increase to be no greater than the increase in their Social Security benefits.
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.
Covered California consumers are penalized for having the good fortune of their household income’s increase. To add another layer of insult, if the consumer makes over 400% of the federal poverty level, they have to repay all the monthly tax credit subsidies they received during the year and pay for an artificially inflated Silver plan rate. Ouch!