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Covered California Begins its First Renewal Period

If you are one of the approximately 1.2 million Californians who purchased health insurance on the Covered California exchange market during its first year of operation, your policy is due for renewal. You should review your situation, consider your options, and decide whether to renew your existing policy or obtain different coverage. In a few cases, coverages available in 2014 will not be available in 2015 and you will have to choose a new policy in order to retain coverage. (More on this below). And even where you choose to keep your existing policy, your premiums may change, as may your eligibility for premium assistance in the form of tax credits.

Covered California began sending out renewal notices on October 15, 2014. You have until December 15, 2014 to decide to keep your existing plan, add or remove members to your coverage, and report other relevant changes. If you do not act by December 15, your existing plan will automatically be renewed (except as indicated in the next paragraph). However, even if you intend to retain your existing health plan, you should review your account to determine whether your premium will change or your premium assistance amount, if any, will change.  

Two plans that were available in 2014 (Health Net PPO and Contra Costa Health Plans) will not be available in 2015. Health Net PPO products will be replaced in Northern California by Health Net EPO products and in Southern California by Health Net Health Care Savings Plan. If you currently have a Health Net PPO or a Contra Costa Health Plan, you must sign up for a different plan by December 15 in order to retain coverage next year. If you do not sign up for a new plan, your coverage will end starting January 1, 2015. 

If you already have an online Covered California account, you can review your renewal options and complete the renewal process online. You can find handy step-by-step guidelines for this process at http://www.coveredca.com/FAQs/renewal-steps. If you do not have an online account, you can create one by going to covered.ca.com, clicking on the "Account Login" button, then on the "Create Account" link in the upper right corner, and following the remaining steps.

However, you can also obtain help in the renewal process. If you signed up for health coverage with the assistance of a Covered California Certified Insurance Agent (like myself) or a Certified Enrollment Counsellor, you can simply contact that person for assistance in renewing your plan. The contact information for that person has been included in the renewal notice you should have received from Covered California. If you managed to sign up on your own this year, but want assistance considering your renewal options or navigating the Covered California website, feel free to contact me. My telephone number and email address are listed below.

For those of you who currently obtain premium assistance and hope to continue that assistance into 2015, it is critical that you provide your consent to Covered California to verify your income. You can do so by logging onto your online account, clicking on "Update Consent for Verification" under the "ACTIONS" section of the webpage, choosing the number of years (up to five) for which your consent will be valid, and clicking on the "Update" button at the bottom of the page to submit your consent.

If you are currently enrolled in a health plan through Covered California, please take some time to consider your renewal options. Have you had a change in income that might affect your eligibility for premium assistance? Are there new family members that you want covered or that need no longer be covered under your policy? (Perhaps a spouse or adult child has obtained coverage at work or through Medi-Cal). Have your health needs changed so that you should consider a different type of coverage? Will the premiums on your current policy change in comparison to other available policies? Please contact me if I can help you think through these or other issues.

And if you are not currently enrolled in a health plan through Covered California but would like to do so, the open enrollment period will begin on November 15, 2014 and continue through February 15, 2015. I'll have more on that in a separate blog post.

For assistance with all of your insurance needs -- health, property (home, auto, boat), casualty, liability, and business related, contact Alex Pfeifer of Pfeifer Insurance Brokers, at 650 762-8070 or alex@pfeiferins.com.
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