THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2014
Open Enrollment Period for Individual and Family Health Insurance Coverage on the Covered California Exchange begins November 15
A few weeks ago I wrote about the renewal period that began in mid-October for individuals and families that obtained health insurance through Covered California in 2014. (See, "Covered California Begins its First Health Plan Renewal Period," October 22, 2014). If you do not currently have health insurance through Covered California, beginning on November 15, 2014, Covered California will conduct an open enrollment period for new enrollees that will close on February 1, 2015. Individuals and families that want to obtain health insurance for next year on the Covered California health insurance market exchange must arrange for coverage during the open enrollment period, unless you fall into one of a handful of permitted exceptions, such as adding new family members, or losing or changing employment.
Keep in mind that under the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), you must have health insurance coverage in order to avoid certain (limited) tax penalties. You can purchase coverage through the Covered California marketplace (which serves as an intermediary exchange between a pre-approved group of private insurance companies and individual purchasers of insurance) or you can purchase coverage directly from the insurance company providers. However, if your income level makes you eligible for assistance in payment of insurance premiums, you must purchase your coverage on the Covered California exchange.
Many of you may be familiar with the host of difficulties that were experienced last year when - for the very first time - individuals attempted to purchase insurance through the various exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act, including the exchange operated by Covered California. While the Covered California exchange did not have the more serious problems that the federal exchange had, users of the Covered California website did experience substantial problems and frustrations. Ditto for those users who contacted, or attempted to contact, Covered California through its call centers. I can personally attest to the high level of frustration caused by Covered California in its first year of operation, as I spent countless hours on the Covered California website and phone lines on behalf of clients.
With all of its first year problems, most people who were persistent in their efforts were able to obtain the coverage they wanted. Covered California recently announced that it enrolled approximately 1.2 million Californian during its first turbulent year of operations. A good start.
To its great credit, Covered California acknowledged its shortcomings, studied them, and is attempting to correct them. It has improved its website and vastly increased the number of trained personnel available to answer inquiries. There is every expectation that both renewals and new enrollments will run much more smoothly this time around.
If you are interested in obtaining health (perhaps including dental) coverage for yourself or for you and your family -- whether through Covered California or in the private market and whether or not you qualify for premium subsidies, please contact me with any questions you may have or for assistance in enrolling. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 650 762-8070.
Alex Pfeifer, Pfeifer Insurance Brokers