The California individual and family plan market place will be changing quite a bit in 2017. Next to confirming if your favorite doctors are covered by the new health plans, many consumers want to make sure their chosen hospital is in-network as well. From information provided by Covered California and the health plans, I have put together a table of California hospitals by region and the health plans they accept.
A really nice tool for agents and consumers to compare health insurance plan rates is the Shop and Compare Tool. Within this website you can also download a proposal that lists the available health plans by metal tier level for the household information entered. Unfortunately, I recently found that the proposal created may not always match the website results shown.
Covered California has come under pointed criticism from the health insurance companies for their lack of verification of a consumer’s Qualifying Life Event (QLE) for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). That will change as of August 1, 2016, when Covered California will start a program to randomly sample consumers who have enrolled in health plan outside of Open Enrollment under a QLE. Selected consumers will have to provide verification that they actually do have a QLE that makes them eligible to enroll outside of Open Enrollment such moving into California or the loss of minimum essential coverage like Medi-Cal or employer group coverage.
While the Affordable Care Act has brought transparency for consumers to compare health insurance plans, it has failed to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding how much health care services actually cost. This is particularly important for consumers who have high deductible PPO Bronze plans who would like to learn the health plan’s negotiated rate for a health care procedure.
For independent health insurance agents, such as me, who don’t have access to an already established secure network through a large agency, we have to be more diligent in securing all the different parts of the internet communication puzzle.
All individual and family health insurance plans include a maximum out-of-pocket amount that is the most an individual will pay on in-network health care services for a calendar year. This is particularly important for sole proprietors and self-employed people as one emergency room visit can easily top $20,000, and without health insurance, can imperil the person’s business. The value of the maximum out-of-pocket benefit can be measured and compared between different metal level health plan tiers and carriers as one guide in selecting a health plan.
Health insurance companies are deploying a variety of measures to reduce fraud and abuse such as only accepting paper applications or requiring proof of residency and identity.
One of the most baffling health plan descriptions is the 2016 Bronze 60 health plan that states that the member is responsible for 100% coinsurance after the deductible. Most people who read this immediately shake their head and think, “I have to pay for all of my health care services EVEN AFTER I meet the deductible?” There really is no reason to buy health insurance if it never helps with the costs. The second part of the equation, not always referenced, is the calendar year maximum out-of-pocket amount of the Bronze plan which does limit a health plan members health care expenses.
While Covered California standard benefit design health plans have very specific limitations on member responsibility for in-network health care services, the coverage for out-of-network services can vary greatly between PPO health plans. The insurance carriers that offer PPO health plans through Covered California (Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, and UnitedHealthcare) with out-of-network coverage seem to have made up their own rules for this PPO benefit. Because the Covered California individual and family health plans have such narrow networks, many families are finding that they must go out-of-network to receive certain health care services.
Covered California has sent Certified Insurance Agents information and links on sensitivity and sales training for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender community. The sensitivity training presentation and social media icons were developed by Out2Enroll a national organization encouraging the enrollment of the LGBT community into Marketplace health insurance. While the overall information is good, there is underlying sales element that reduces the community down to dollar signs instead of human beings.