State News
Millions Of Policies Set To End This Year
By Alex Nochez
Nov 23, 2013 - 3:34:25 AM

CALIFORNIA — The Board of Covered California voted to keep its deadline to discontinue health plans that do not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Thursday, November 21.
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Covered California keeps its deadline.

 

In a unanimous vote, the board that governs Covered California decided to keep the December 31 deadline that would force health insurers in the state to end existing health insurance plans that fail to meet ACA requirements for essential benefits. The board claimed that there was no benefit in extending that deadline that could affect over 1 million people in California, saying it could cause confusion about accessing affordable health care. The protection of consumers from poor health plans was also cited as reason for the decision.

 

This comes after the Obama administration's plea to health providers nationwide that certain policies be extended for certain individuals whose policy cancellations would have them “finding that [quality health insurance coverage] would be more expensive than their current coverage, and thus may be dissuaded from immediately transitioning to such coverage,” according to a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Taking into consideration the possible confusion, the board has also seen to design an implementation of a hotline that people can call should they have questions regarding their policy at 855-857-0445. In addition, the enrollment deadline for health coverage has been extended from December 15 to December 23, while deadline payments due have been extended from December 26 to January 5, 2014.

 

By law, health providers must provide a 90 day notice of policy cancellation to its policyholders should their plan be discontinued or canceled.

 

A recent study unveiled by Families USA shows that the number of residents with individual plans who have incomes above the 400 percent Federal Poverty Level (FPL), a number which would determine if they were eligible for federal financial help should it sit below the FPL, and who retain individual coverage for more than a year in California was .8 percent, or 264,232 people.

 

“These new strategies will provide consumers a better enrollment experience, more flexibility in the selection of a plan and, most importantly, increased knowledge with which to make the best health coverage choice possible,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee in a statement.

 

Support for the decision has come from Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg who said in a statement of his own, “The Covered California board has made the appropriate decision to stay the course.” The California Association of Health Plans President and CEO also commended the board, with the following statement, “Covered California made the best decision for consumers by supporting the success of our new health insurance marketplace.”

 

The board's vote has a detractor in California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who has been vocal about his disapproval of Covered California's deadline for health insurers. “Covered California could have honored President Obama's request, without causing damage to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act or the Exchange,” said Jones in a statement.

 

Also released by Covered California were a number of statistics surrounding the rate and number of applications filed for health coverage in the new exchange since its debut. The organization boasts that 360,464 applications have been filed as of November 19, with 39 percent of those likely resulting in Medi-Cal qualification.

 

In terms of demographics, the 18-34 age group has filed 6,904 applications, or 23 percent of all applications filed, which is almost proportional to the 21 percent population segment that is comprised of the 18-34 group. The 45-64 demographic, however, have filed 17,252 applications for health coverage, or 56 percent of applications filed. This over-represents the 25 percent population segment they currently hold.



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