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!
The increased revenue is also in light of reducing health plan assessment from 4% of the gross premiums down to 3.75% for the individual and family plan market. The proposed operating budget for FY 2018-19 is $340.2 million. This represents a 6.55 increase over the FY 2017-18 budget or an increase of $20,686,242.
In their conclusion, Covered California notes that health plans have already begun their decision-making process for participation and rates for 2019. The decisions the health insurance companies make will be based on existing federal rules. If the rules and policies to stabilize the marketplace are not implemented in the next couple of months, consumers will most likely face premium increases of 12% to 32% in 2019.
The question no one can answer for me is if the expanded Medi-Cal HMO capitation rates have been decreasing because there are more healthy people in the Medi-Cal pool? Or are there other factors that are driving down the rates. There must be good money in Medi-Cal as Aetna, Blue Shield, and United Healthcare have all been approved to offer Medi-Cal HMO plans alongside other private health insurance companies such as Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser, and Molina.
A glaring deficiency in the report is the failure to attribute any decline in enrollments, either on the federal level or at Covered California, to an improving economy. Unemployment is at record low percentages and more people are working for employers who offer group health plans. Covered California’s own small group plans have seen increased enrollment since its inception in 2014 and their budget report estimates continued enrollment growth.
Health insurance companies are smarter than your average house cat. They have reams of data about health care claims and demographics. They can forecast, with reasonable confidence, that altering some of the member cost-sharing benefits may reduce their final exposure to pay member claims. It has also been suggested that consumers who purchase health insurance off-exchange, paying the full premium rate with no subsidy, may be more judicious in how they use health care services. In other word, off-exchange consumer mays tend to file fewer health care expense claims. This results in lower rates to the consumer.
Finally, some folks are considering just enrolling in Medi-Cal because they are eligible. They have very little or no income to report on their taxes because they are living off of savings, interest, and dividends. Here again, Medi-Cal would be used as a containment strategy to an unexpected accident or illness. Medi-Cal is typically a HMO plan which requires a Primary Care Physician to make referrals to specialists, order tests, or imaging.
A review of health insurance rates in Northern and Southern California shows rates for young adults will increase between 30% to over 40%. Instead of the 6% to 16% increase in rates for adults only, families could experience a 20% increase in health insurance rates in 2018.
What has not been explained was if the increased Silver plan rates were based on existing Silver plan enrollments or projected enrollments. For those individuals and families who receive very little or no APTC the off-exchange Silver 70 plans will be 8.3% to 27% less expensive. People will naturally enroll in off-exchange Silver plans to save money. There will also be people who downgrade their plans from Silver to Bronze to save money, or, enroll in a Gold or Platinum plan for more benefits at an equal or lower cost of a Silver plan through Covered California. Either way, people will exit Covered California Silver plans in 2018. And since only the Covered California Silver plans have the increased rates, will that generate enough money to subsidize those people left in the enhanced Silver plans?
The Petersen has plans with lower deductible amounts than IHC. Petersen also has an optional hazardous sports or activities rider. Optional Hazardous Sports or Activities Rider – Hazardous Sports or Activities are the following list of activities which are considered to be more than a standard risk. This optional rider will provide up to $250,000 for eligible expenses incurred by participation in the following: