CoveredCa Insurance Sign Ups Costs Less This Year for Most
By Dianne Anderson
Talk of healthcare politics lately is enough to drive anyone’s blood pressure up a few notches, but certified Covered California outreach educator Ernesta Wright, is calling for calm, at least through 2018.
Plans are expected to remain the same, with the exception of some individual premium hikes, or patrons shopping new providers as Anthem Blue Cross pulls many of its services offered through the Affordable Care Act.
For the most part, Covered California expects pricing should stay relatively similar to last year — even less for most participants this coming year.
Local outreach is ready to meet the demands of this year’s Marketplace Exchange to get enrollments up in the community.
“We’re still all in, we’ve been moving to get Californians enrolled in the Medicare, Medi-Cal,” said Wright, Executive Director and Navigation Program Director for The G.R.E.E.N. Foundation.
“Fortunately, there are plans in place that even for individuals dependent on the subsidy, plans would not change for 2018 for people in California.”
While changes will kick in for other states, such as locked federal funds for subsidies, she said Covered California has been proactive and health care proponents are working hard to preserve coverage.
Starting November 1 and continuing until January 31, Covered California is taking insurance applications.
“We want to make sure for open enrollment that the message is they [participants] will not be impacted,” she said. “Premiums might be adjusted, but that’s with any industry. The subsidy portion has not gone away for 2018.”
Enrollment and coverage are better than it was in the years before the Affordable Care Act, but coverage is far from where it should be, given the dire statistics.
Covered California reports that going without insurance is a serious health risk, especially for the roughly 130,000 African-Americans who are still not signed up for coverage, even though they qualify.
African Americans continue to hold the highest death rate from cancer, and are 40% more at risk for high blood pressure and less likely than Latinos to have it under control. Adult African Americans are also twice as likely to have diabetes, and continue to grapple with Black infant mortality that is four times higher than the mortality for white infants.
Wright said that marketplace participants need to watch their mailboxes and read the documentation from their health companies carefully to avoid getting caught by surprise if monthly costs have increased.
“It’s really important for them to be empowered so if there are any changes to their health coverage, they have time within their enrollment period to get adjusted for their families,” she said.
The GREEN Foundation provides direct services for sign-ups, serving Orange County and Los Angeles County.
Over the years, Ms. Wright has worked with numerous health organizations, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Vines Medical Society, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Orange County Affiliate, along with several area universities.
For the past four years, she has also facilitated a statewide African American Education and Enrollment Collaborative, which works to keep communities connected, and informed about their health benefits throughout northern and southern California.
The policy side of coverage is critical to keep services for those that need assistance.
So far, she said that advocates as a whole want the community to get proactive in contacting their legislators to continue promoting the Affordable Care Act.
“To be our voice, that we don’t want them messing with it,” she said. “It isn’t perfect, but it needs to be improved and all of us need to be a part of the improvement process — not to destroy it.”
For more information, see http://www.thegreenfoundation.net