SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians who need health insurance will find new ways to shop for coverage and new ways to save in 2017 when open enrollment begins Nov.1. More than 92 percent of consumers will have three or more health plans to choose from, and none will have fewer than two.
“California has built a robust marketplace where insurers are competing for consumers and where there is financial help to buy top-quality insurance,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Starting next week, all consumers can choose from a variety of affordable health care options, with coverage that gives them the protection they need for whatever health issues come their way.”
Making Care More Affordable
- For 2017, most consumers will see a lower copay for their primary care visits, and urgent care costs in every plan will be the same as the primary care visit, helping consumers save up to $55 per visit.
- Consumers in Silver, Gold and Platinum plans will pay a flat copay for emergency room visits in 2017 without having to satisfy a deductible, which could help them save thousands of dollars.
These improvements for 2017 build on features already in place that help make care more affordable for Covered California enrollees. 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. Even consumers in Covered California’s most affordable Bronze plans are able to see their doctor or a specialist three times before the visits are subject to the deductible.
“We know health care is expensive, so we took steps to make sure consumers who do buy coverage get the care they need without having to first meet their full deductible,” Lee said.
New Health and Dental Plan Choices for 2017
Three of Covered California’s 11 health plans are expanding their coverage areas. Molina Healthcare is moving into Orange County, Kaiser Permanente will be available in Santa Cruz County and Oscar Health Plan of California will be offering coverage in San Francisco County.
The other plans continuing to offer coverage for 2017 are Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Health Net, L.A. Care Health Plan, Sharp Health Plan, Valley Health Plan and Western Health Advantage.
Covered California is also adding two new family dental plans, Liberty Dental Plan and California Dental Network. They will join Access Dental Plan, Anthem Blue Cross, Delta Dental of California, Dental Health Services and Premier Access. Liberty Dental Plan will offer coverage in all ZIP codes in 2017, and California Dental Network will offer very competitive rates in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange counties, and in parts of Sacramento, the north Bay Area, the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and San Diego.
More Consumer Help While Shopping
Consumers shopping for health coverage can get a wide variety of free support to learn about their options online, by phone, at community events and at more than 800 Covered California storefronts statewide.
An upgraded online shopping tool enables consumers to see 12 plan options on a page and filter their choices by plan, plan type, price, out-of-pocket costs, quality rating and metal tier, among other features. Consumers can also select their preferred plan and the information will be transferred to the application automatically. Another feature is the ability to shop for health or dental insurance and switch between the two offerings.
Consumers who want assistance by phone can leave their number for a call back from the Covered California Service Center. Soon, consumers will have the option of getting an immediate call from an expert enroller to assist them with their shopping and application.
“Covered California is making it easier than ever to sign up — whether it is online, over the phone or in person,” Lee said. “We think this will ensure that our interested customers get the help they need to complete the application process.”
Improving Access to Care
Starting in 2017, Covered California enrollees who do not have a doctor will be matched to a primary care physician who has an open practice within 60 days of their coverage taking effect so that they have an advocate and entry point to the health care system. They can designate a different physician at any time.
“Health care reform isn’t just about making insurance available, it’s about doing things to make it easier for consumers to get the right care at the right time,” Lee said. “We think this is going to be helpful for our consumers — especially those in need of their first physician. We never want the inability to find a doctor to prevent people from accessing the care they need.”
New Television Advertising and Third Annual Bus Tour
A new addition to Covered California’s advertising campaign is a unique television ad aimed at encouraging individuals to get insured. “The Scene,” developed with Campbell Ewald, leverages the viewer’s point-of-view during an emergency situation. The ad reinforces that life can change in an instant, and encourages individuals to be covered when it does. “The Scene” is one element of a comprehensive statewide, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual advertising campaign utilizing television, radio, print, out-of-home, digital and social ads, in addition to targeted outreach aimed at enrolling the African American, LGBT, Spanish-speaking and Asian-language-speaking communities.
In addition, the Covered California bus will travel throughout communities in California to promote enrollment starting Nov. 12.
Similar to last year, Covered California estimates that as many as 400,000 individuals will enroll and that the total enrollment will be similar to what it was after open enrollment ended in 2016 — approximately 1.4 million people.
Since the exchange opened its doors in 2014, more than 2.8 million Californians have purchased health insurance through Covered California, and the rate of the uninsured in the state has been cut in half.
Open enrollment continues through Jan. 31, 2017. Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to CoveredCA.com or call (800) 300-1506.
About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget.
Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits. Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information about Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.