That’s the message Covered California officials are broadcasting across the state, encouraging residents to apply for health insurance before open enrollment ends Jan. 31.
“We’re still open for business, and we want every eligible Californian to enjoy the protection and security that comes with having health insurance for themselves and their families,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said.
Since insurance was first offered in 2013, Covered California has become woven into the fabric of how health care is provided in the state, with nearly 3 million consumers benefiting from coverage for some portion of the past three years. About 1.3 million consumers were enrolled in 2016 and the pace of sign-ups for coverage in 2017 has been robust, according to Covered California.
Lee acknowledged that the recent presidential election result has created concern about the future of Covered California and health insurance. But politics is not the agency’s focus, he said.
“We are committed to keeping our consumers informed and will make sure to keep them updated as decisions at the federal level are made,” Lee said. “In the meantime, we want to encourage Californians to sign up by the Jan. 31, 2017, open-enrollment deadline.
“Our work is not done and our mission is as vital today as it was when our governing board set our course five years ago,” Lee said. “In the final days of open enrollment, our task will be twofold: We will focus on the here and now by making sure Californians get the best possible coverage and care they can through our programs; and, we will share our experiences with the new administration, Congress and policy leaders in California and nationally as we work to build upon what we have accomplished so far to foster a health care system that works for all Americans.”
Eleven insurance companies offer coverage through Covered California, with some expanding into new territory this year. The vast majority of consumers (92.6 percent) will be able to choose from three or more carriers, and all will have at least two to select from.
More than 90 percent of Covered California consumers receive a federal subsidy to help them pay for their coverage.
In addition, more than 93 percent of hospitals in California will be available through at least one Covered California health insurance company in 2017, and 74 percent will be available in three or more plans, the agency said.
Covered California also is improving its patient-centered benefit designs by increasing a consumer’s access to care by reducing the number of services that are subject to a consumer’s deductible.
Starting in 2017, consumers in Silver 70 plans will save as much as $55 on an urgent care visit and $10 on a primary care visit. In addition, consumers in Silver, Gold and Platinum plans will pay a flat copay for emergency room visits without having to satisfy a deductible, which could save them thousands of dollars.
These improvements build on features already in place that ensure most outpatient services in Silver, Gold and Platinum plans are not subject to a deductible, including primary care visits, specialist visits, lab tests, X-rays and imaging. In addition, some Enhanced Silver plans have little or no deductible and very low copays, such as $3 for an office visit. Even consumers in Covered California’s most affordable Bronze plans are allowed to see their doctor or a specialist three times before the visits are subject to the deductible.
In addition, the contract with health insurers for 2017 ensures consumers select or are provisionally assigned a primary care physician within 60 days of effectuation so they have an established source of care.
“We want to encourage Californians to call us at (800) 300-1506 or go to our website at Coveredca.com to find a plan that’s right for them. And remember, you must sign up by Jan. 31,” Lee said.