We have heard all sorts of reasons why people have yet to apply for 2014 health insurance, and many of them are far more legitimate than simple procrastination. Here are a few, along with comments and answers….
“It seems like everything keeps getting postponed. Won’t this deadline get pushed back?”
Never say never, but it is our belief that California will not postpone the March 15th or 31st deadlines to apply/change individual health insurance. Other states (we’re looking at you, Oregon) may be forced to. But for California residents, you must apply by March 15 (for an April 1 effective date) or March 31 at the very latest (for a May 1 effective date). The IRS may or may not enforce the penalty for those who go without minimum coverage in 2014 (equal to the greater of $95 or 1% of AGI), but if they decide to be lenient, I expect we won’t find out until we file taxes in April 2015.
” I am not 100% certain that my preferred doctors and other providers are in-network”
This is a very real concern, and I encourage all clients and prospective clients to not only search the carrier network lists, but also to check directly with their doctors. We have heard anecdotally from a number of clients whose doctors have told them, “We only accept your PPO as a participating provider if you purchased directly from the carrier – not through the state exchange, Covered California).” This appears to be a problem mostly with Health Net and Blue Shield of CA – both of these carriers do not make a distinction of on-exchange vs. off-exchange in their provider directories.
For anyone who is finding that their preferred providers are not in-network, we encourage you to take a look at a new partner, Assurant Health (off-exchange only). Assurant uses Aetna’s Signature Administrators PPO network, which we believe to be the strongest PPO network available to California individuals who are choosing a 2014 plan. Assurant also offers some unique plan designs, and approval of online applications is instant, a nice feature compared to some other carriers who are taking weeks to approve new application. Get immediate Assurant quotes and apply online, or contact us for a custom quote.
“I wasn’t sure whether to apply directly or through Covered California. And what’s the difference again?”
Also understandable, as people throw around terms like “exchange,” “Obamacare,” and “Covered CA” which all can mean similar, but different things. To be clear, the only reason to apply for health insurance through Covered California (the California exchange) is if you believe you may qualify for a tax credit/subsidy. Everyone else will be better off applying directly to one of the carriers, as the rates are the same, and you will get a better network of providers. Not to mention a shorter application and eliminating a cumbersome layer of bureaucracy.
Phone appointments are still available to discuss your specific situation, including last-minute, 30-minute slots this Saturday for those up against the deadline. Please contact Carla Arriola by email or by phone at 888-992-2244 x5 to schedule an appointment.