22 Oct 2013

What’s Happening With… Covered California?

22 Oct 2013

This is the first of a series of posts designed to update individuals and families on their health insurance options for the remainder of 2013 and 2014. Topic number one has been in the news every single day since October 1, despite the 16-day government shutdown vacation interlude, and that is the technological and political mess that are the state health insurance marketplaces, or “exchanges.”  Here in CA, Covered California was not immune to glitches, and continues to experience significant delays and web site problems, though Covered California is doing a bit better than the state marketplaces run by the federal government.

In my early October post, the main message was patience. That hasn’t changed. While I am confident that Covered CA will eventually iron out the web site troubles, the recommendation is still: Wait until mid-November to apply.  There are three critical reasons for this:

  1. You can’t accurately search or view a list of the provider networks. Every major carrier – except for Kaiser and Health Net – will offer a smaller network of doctors, hospitals, labs and pharmacies in 2014. How can the consumer be expected to decide on a carrier and plan before knowing whether your preferred doctor or hospital is in- or out-of-network?  The L.A. Times reports on this issue, here.
  2. Not all of your 2014 plan options and rates are available at this time.  For those individuals and families who may not qualify for a tax credit or subsidy, one insurance carrier may offer some appealing plan options, that are not yet released: Cigna. We are expecting new rates and plans to be announced by Cigna at the beginning of November, and their plans will include a $6,100 deductible, HSA-compatible PPO plan – which might appeal to many people who have recently had similar plans from Blue Shield or Health Net.
  3. Online applications. I have tested coveredca.com repeatedly over the last few weeks, to see what type of experience my clients would have. As of this morning, I was able to create a profile and begin an application, but was consistently frustrated by error messages, slow-loading pages, and repeated log-in attempts. If you absolutely can’t wait and must apply now, please download the paper application, and we can help you submit it.

Have you tried accessing coveredca.com? Successfully applied and chosen a plan?  Let us know about it in the comments below.

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