Monthly Archives: October 2013

Business Insurance Solutions in 2014

CaliforniaChoice announced on October 22, 2013 the introduction of a small-group “Business Solutions Suite” designed to provide small businesses and their employees with a host of additional products and services at no additional cost. CaliforniaChoice is one of the nations most successful small-group private health insurance exchanges.

“When it comes to purchasing health insurance, employers today are choosing between a government option, a single carrier or a private exchange,” said Ron Goldstein, president and CEO of CHOICE Administrators, which operates CaliforniaChoice. “Our new Business Solutions Suite includes products and services employers want and need; and we’re able to offer them at absolutely no additional cost to the employer, which enhances the overall value of our program.”
CaliforniaChoice’s Business Solutions Suite will be available January 1, 2014.

The Business Solutions Suite is comprised of three levels, based on the number of employees in a small business. Each level includes discount dental, voluntary vision, discount hearing programs, a pharmacy prescription card, a premium-only plan, access to an online human resources support center, Cal Perks employee discount programs, payroll discounts, and Cal-COBRA billing support. Businesses with more than 15 employees also have access to a flexible spending account, and those with 20 or more employees receive federal COBRA billing support.

CaliforniaChoice offers a wide selection of benefit plans – ranging from platinum metal tier benefits (the richest benefits) to gold, silver and bronze – through Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Health Plan and Western Health Advantage. CaliforniaChoice also offers both full and limited provider networks within each metal tier of benefits, which gives employees more flexibility when it comes to selecting the right coverage. The program also includes a host of optional benefits including dental, vision, chiropractic, life and payroll services.

For more information, call Jeremy at (310) 486-7625 to discuss the most effective options for your small business.

Successful Applications on Covered California

In an article by Chad Terhune October 9, 2013, the LA Times reported that 29,000 people had successfully applied for coverage with Covered California the preceding week.
Covered California released the data earlier than planned to counter “misinformation” and reports about widespread glitches preventing people from signing up.
“This continued drumbeat of doubters and misinformation made us say, ‘Let’s put this out,'” Lee said. Pointing to persistent Republican efforts in Washington to defund or delay Obamacare as a federal government shutdown drags on, Lee said that “you can’t derail something when it has already left the station. We are going very strong.”
California’s enrollment efforts are significant because of its size and strong political backing for the Affordable Care Act. California is one of 14 states running their own insurance exchange; the federal government is operating the marketplace in the 36 other states.
“This is a good start, but the pace of enrollment will have to accelerate for California to meet its goals,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “I hope they have eliminated the glitches.”
In California, 16,311 households had completed the application process through Saturday the 5th, representing 28,699 people. Consumers had started an additional 27,305 applications that are still pending while they consider their options and keep shopping.
“This blew the socks off anything we expected,” Lee said.
Lee acknowledged that the state website has been slow and “clunky” in the first week, but he said computer upgrades are making it “faster every day.” He also said service-center employees were answering calls within five minutes by the end of last week, down from 30 minutes beforehand.
Experts say the real test for California and other exchanges will come in November and early December when websites, call centers and enrollment counselors come under even greater pressure. Enrollment in exchanges nationwide runs through March 31. But consumers must sign up by Dec. 15 if they want coverage in effect by Jan. 1.

Penalties for Not having Health Coverage

People who are required to have health insurance but choose not to buy it will have to pay a penalty when filing their taxes.

Pay the greater of…

Year —- Percentage of family income — Set dollar amount

2014 — 1% — $95 per adult and $47.50 per child
(up to $285 for a family)

2015 — 2% — $325 per adult and $162.50 per child
(up to $975 for a family)

2016 — 2.5% — $695 per adult and $347.50 per child
and beyond (up to $2,085 for a family)

People who are exempt from the requirement are those who:
• would have to pay more than eight percent of their income for health insurance
• have incomes below the threshold required for filing taxes
• qualify for religious exemptions

Also exempt are:
• undocumented immigrants
• people who are incarcerated
• members of Native American tribes

Application Glitches Being Worked Out – Obamacare

Covered California shut down its online enrollment system Saturday night through early Monday morning for what it described as “regular maintenance.” Last week, the state took enrollment offline two other times to address problems consumers had with repeated error messages and general slowness on the site. Some people said they were finally able to create an account on the website after numerous attempts, but they still couldn’t log in and complete the sign-up process for coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act. Officials attributed the initial problems primarily to a larger-than-expected response during the first week of enrollment.

Enrollment in the exchange lasts until March 31, 2014, although you must pick a plan by Dec. 15, 2013 to have coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014. “We continue to make improvements and address issues as they arise,” said Covered California spokeswoman Anne Gonzales. “The pages were loading more easily and quickly as of late last week.” 

 California allows consumers to get price quotes and compare health plans anonymously without first creating a personal account. That requirement on other state websites appeared to create extensive problems. California plans to launch an online tool that allows people to search for specific doctors and hospitals by health plan before choosing an insurer. That feature was delayed last week as state officials addressed the enrollment issues. “Covered California had an enormous challenge to develop an IT system to manage such a large program,” said Patrick Johnston, president of the California Assn. of Health Plans. “It is working and the fact there are adjustments in the early days only means the demands were great.”
Reported by Chad Terhune – October 7, 2013

Overwhelming Interest in Initial Obamacare Offering

According to an LA Times article by Noam N. Levey and Chad Terhune
October 5, 2013, since the new marketplaces opened Tuesday, millions of Americans have flooded websites, call centers and insurance offices seeking information about health coverage offered through the Affordable Care Act.

More than 8.5 million people visited the federal site last week, according to officials at the Department of Health and Human Services and California’s Marketplace, Covered California, had 514,000 visitors to its website the first day of enrollment.

“Blue Shield of California said its consumer call volume more than doubled last week with hundreds of people asking about their options under the healthcare law and whether they qualified for federal subsidies,” the article stated.
Additionally, the federal call center received 406,000 calls covering residents of 36 states that are not running their own online markets.

Very few of those potential customers have been able to complete the process of applying for coverage because of a number of technical problems.

“Clearly there is a lot of interest in getting health insurance out there,” said Joel Ario, a former state insurance commissioner and Obama administration official who, like many, was surprised by the outpouring.

Fewer than 4 in 10 adults said they were familiar with the new marketplaces, with three quarters of the uninsured saying they were unfamiliar with the marketplaces.
Millions of low- and moderate-income Americans who make less than four times the federal poverty level — or about $46,000 for individuals and up to about $94,000 for a family of four — will qualify for government subsidies to help with their premiums. Officials hope to enroll 7 million people next year.

For help in answering your questions and assistance in applying for the new healthcare options, call Jeremy at (310) 486-7625.