Obamacare Prices Lower; Key Deadlines Loom
As the calendar turns to 2018, Covered California is ringing the Christmas bell that a wonderful gift awaits most people who sign up for health insurance by Dec. 15 — lower prices.
A new analysis finds that the net monthly premiums for the 85 percent of Covered California enrollees who get financial help — the price they will pay after a plan’s premium is discounted by the federal subsidy — is an average of 10 percent less than new and renewing consumers paid last year.
Open Enrollment for health plans began Nov. 1 and through Nov. 30, the data showed that the average net price for plans selected by new and renewing consumers this year was $120 per month, down from $134 per month at this point last year. And, for those who selected a bronze plan, the average cost for 2018 was only $45 per month, compared to $87 in 2017.
“When you do the math, hundreds of thousands of Californians are the winners – getting quality coverage at lower rates than last year,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Consumers are finding out they can get quality coverage for less than they expect.”
The experience of an individual will vary based on their circumstance, including whether they get subsidies to help purchase coverage, where they live and the plan options they choose, Lee said.
The analysis found that consumers who select a Silver-tier plan are on average paying $3 per month less than they were in 2017, while consumers who select a Gold-tier plan will pay on average $78 less per month.
Though open enrollment continues through Jan. 31, 2018, Lee stressed that consumers must sign up by Dec. 15 to get covered for all of 2018. Free help to sign up is available on CoveredCA.com and you can find in-person help in your area through the website.
Despite all of the negative rhetoric coming out of the nation’s capital, Covered California has signed up 102,000 new consumers for coverage in November — the first month of California’s three-month open-enrollment period – which is substantially ahead of last year’s pace when more than 80,000 consumers signed up for coverage.
Lower prices are helping drive the enrollment surge, Lee said.
“Consumers are continuing to check out their options and take advantage of the lower prices for many enrolling and renewing in coverage,” Lee said. “For those who haven’t signed up yet, it is critical to get enrolled by Dec. 15 to have coverage beginning on Jan. 1.”
The impact of the Affordable Care Act is obvious as a new survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows California’s uninsured rate dropped to 6.8 percent in first six months of 2017, down from 17 percent in 2013 — a new record low. Prior to the ACA, the uninsured rate was at 17 percent in 2013.
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.
Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to www.CoveredCA.com where they can get help to enroll. 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 more than 17,000 certified enrollers who can assist consumers in understanding their choices and enrolling, including individuals who can assist in other languages. In addition, consumers can reach the Covered California service center by calling (800) 300-1506.