Access to health care services is not equal in the United States. Your health plan determines the type of care you receive. The health plans in the employer, individual, and Medicaid markets are separate and they are not equal. The ACA moved us in direction of more equality for all residents regardless of the market type of the health plan. Current Republican proposals under President Trump will widen the gap in disparity between group plans and individual plans. We need to move in a direction the guarantees access to the same level of health care services regardless of whether you work for government, a large employer, have your own individual plan, or are awarded Medicaid because of your income. It is time to dismantle the flawed ‘separate but equal’ assumption of health insurance in the United States.
When a union goes on strike it can be difficult for union members and those trade members associated with the union to keep paying their health insurance premiums with either reduced or no income. There are options to maintaining health insurance if you know the rules of the health insurance game. These rules revolve around Special Enrollment Periods with the qualifying event of loss of coverage.
Millions of people have been enrolled into expanded Medi-Cal through Covered California based solely on their lack of income. Thousands of those same Medi-Cal beneficiaries went on to get jobs or other insurance and forgot to report this to their county Medi-Cal eligibility department. Many of these people fear they will have to repay Medi-Cal for the months they were really ineligible for the no cost health insurance. Do you have to repay Medi-Cal after your income increases and you were no longer eligible? The short answer is usually not.
The Department of Health Care Services has updated their Estate Recovery Program page to reflect the new rules ushered in with the passage of SB 833 in 2016. There had been some confusion as to who was actually subject to new Estate Recovery rules. Essentially, it all hinges on when the Medi-Cal beneficiary dies.
The Western Center On Law & Poverty has put together a comprehensive guide to the Medicaid program in California known as Medi-Cal. Published in March 2016, there are bound to be changes to many of Medi-Cal’s programs, conditions, and eligibility in 2017. Titled Getting and Keeping Health Coverage for Low-Income Californians: A Guide for Advocates is 375 pages long and covers many topics from eligibility, citizenship, enrollment, re-determination, and the variety of programs Medi-Cal offers such as Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medi-Cal Access Program (MCAP) for pregnant women.
Like a mugger coming out of the shadows, San Diego County Medi-Cal worker(s) mugged a family enrolled in Covered California and stole their health insurance for 2107. The attack was unprovoked as the couple had not been in Medi-Cal and don’t have any children in Medi-Cal. However, Covered California reported the family to San Diego County because the family fit the profile of a household who they think aren’t smart enough to estimate their own income for 2017.
The open enrollment and renewal period for Covered California is fraught with peril if you need to make changes to your household such as a change to income. If you make adjustments for 2017 before you renew your coverage, the system thinks you are making changes for 2016. This could have the impact of placing household members into Medi-Cal.
Several clients have contacted me regarding eligibility determination forms they have received from Medi-Cal, even though some or all of the family members have a Covered California plan with the tax credit subsidy. Even if the household information on the forms is wrong, Covered California consumers should supply the necessary information to their county Medi-Cal office or risk losing their private health plans altogether. Medi-Cal has effectively taken over the functions of Covered California if the family had been in Medi-Cal or if they still have children covered by Medi-Cal.
Consumers logging into their Covered California accounts hoping to renewal their health insurance may find they have lost their subsidy. Instead of the reduced premium amount they are used to paying, Covered California displays that are not receiving the tax credit subsidy and must pay the full premium amount. A common denominator for consumers who have lost their subsidy is that they had been on Medi-Cal in 2016, but later in the year qualified for Covered California and the Advance Premium Tax Credits to lower their monthly health insurance bill. The transfer of critical application information from Medi-Cal to Covered California is missing, triggering a loss of the subsidy.
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.