· More than 48,000 new consumers selected a plan during the first two weeks of open enrollment, which is slightly ahead of last year’s pace.
· New subsidized enrollees are using increased tax credit money to purchase coverage that is more comprehensive.
· The majority of consumers signing up will be able to pay lower prices in 2018 than they would have for the same plans last year.
Covered California issued its first enrollment snapshot for the first two weeks of the current open-enrollment period. From Nov. 1 through Nov. 14, more than 48,000 new consumers signed up for coverage through Covered California, which is slightly ahead of last year’s pace when more than 39,000 consumers selected a plan during the first two weeks of November 2016.
“Covered California is off to another positive start as consumers take advantage of the lower prices being offered this year to buy quality health care coverage,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “While we are encouraged by these early results, we will continue to work hard to get the word out so consumers know they have until Jan. 31 to sign up for coverage.”
Unlike a majority of other states in the nation, California’s open-enrollment period runs through Jan. 31, 2018. However, consumers who want their insurance coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2018, must enroll by Dec. 15.
In addition to the enrollment data, Covered California announced that its data shows that consumers are using their increased tax credit money to purchase more-comprehensive coverage with richer benefits. The percentage of new subsidy-eligible consumers selecting a Gold-tier plan has increased from 4 percent during the first two weeks of 2016 to 12 percent during the same time this year. Silver continues to be the most-selected tier, which is good news because that is the level at which consumers receive the best value due to cost-sharing reduction benefits.
Meanwhile, the number of new consumers enrolled in Silver-tier plans, which were subject to a surcharge caused by the administration’s decision to end reimbursement payments for cost-sharing reduction benefits, has dropped from 56 percent to 45 percent. The analysis also found small increases in consumers selecting Bronze and Platinum coverage.
“Consumers are shopping smart, and finding out that there are many good options this year that are well within their reach,” Lee said. “Anyone who has shopped in the past should come back and take a second look because prices are lower for many.”
Lee pointed to Covered California’s expansive marketing campaign as a key ingredient of the exchange’s consistency and stability since it opened its doors in 2014. Covered California budgeted $111 million dollars for marketing and outreach during the current fiscal year.
The marketing campaign, which includes ads in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese, can be viewed here: https://vimeopro.com/coveredcanews/instant-tv.
Since 2014, more than 3 million people have purchased health insurance through Covered California, and nearly 4 million have enrolled in the state’s Medi-Cal program. Together, the gains have cut the rate of the uninsured in California by more than half.
“Covered California is a stable market that is working well for millions of people,” Lee said. “That’s why it is so disheartening to see Congress discussing another attempt to unravel the law in a way that would send premiums higher and cause many Americans to lose coverage.”
Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to www.CoveredCA.com. They can explore their options and find out if they qualify for financial help by using the Shop and Compare Tool. They can also get free and confidential enrollment assistance by visiting www.coveredca.com/find-help/ and searching among 800 storefronts statewide or the more than 17,000 certified enrollers who can help consumers understand their choices and enroll, including individuals who can assist in other languages. In addition, consumers can reach the Covered California service center by calling (800) 300-1506.
About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace, where Californians can find affordable, high-quality insurance from top insurance companies. Covered California is the only place where individuals who qualify can get financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Depending on their income, some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program.
Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the health insurance marketplace 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.