The law would require health insurers to publicly disclose and justify their rates. (Getty Images)
Update, 12:30 a.m.
At first glance, Proposition 45 seemed like a no-brainer for consumers. The measure would have given the state’s insurance commissioner the authority to reject excessive rate hikes in health insurance sold on the individual and small-business markets.
Consumers who had seen their premiums go up by double digits year after year clung to Prop. 45 as the savior.
“I felt like a frog in hot water that got hotter and hotter until it was boiling,” says Josh Libresco, a market researcher who has bought health insurance for his family on the individual market for 20 years.
Jessica Bravo, 19, of Costa Mesa was granted DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, but didn’t know she could also qualify for Medi-Cal. (Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News).
By Heidi de Marco, Kaiser Health News
Jessica Bravo walks house-to-house in the piercing Southern California heat. Over and over, at doorsteps around Orange County, she asks the same question: “Are you insured?”
Getting an answer isn’t always easy. Doors slam in her face. She gets shooed from porches. And sometimes people cut her off mid-spiel.
Bravo is a paid health outreach worker for the Orange County Congregation Community Organization, a faith-based nonprofit. Her job is to inform people about getting health insurance under the nation’s landmark health law, the Affordable Care Act.
“A lot of people don’t know about this new law … this opportunity for health insurance,” said Bravo, a 19-year old Costa Mesa resident. Continue reading
Screenshot from CoveredCA.com, the website of Covered California.
David Gorn, California Healthline
Covered California officially began mailing renewal notices for its 1.1 million enrollees who signed up during the first open enrollment period, officials announced Thursday.
People who want to keep their current plan will be automatically renewed. All they need do is pay their premium by Dec. 15 to continue their coverage beginning Jan 1, said Peter Lee, executive director of the exchange. People who want to make changes have until Dec. 15 to do so.
“If you’re happy with your plan, you don’t need to do a thing, you just pay the bill, you’re good,” Lee said. “If you want to shop around, we have the tools available online or with assisters to do that. Stability and consistency are good things, but we encourage you to shop for a better policy.” Continue reading
Kevin Spacey stars as Frank Underwood in the Netflix series “House of Cards.” (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
The power play behind Proposition 45 could be fodder for an episode of House of Cards:
Dave Jones might not like this comparison, but he’s the Frank Underwood in this fight.
“Power is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value,” so goes protagonist Frank Underwood, who plays the menacing House majority whip scheming to get closer to the president.
You’d never think there’d be such positioning over who gets to regulate health insurance.
But this is California. And no less than three state agencies want to have a say in this one. Continue reading
Miles Alva, 28, says getting insured is not a priority and would rather deal with the penalty. (Heidi de Marco/KHN).
By Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News
As states gear up for round two of Obamacare enrollment next month, they have their sights set on people like Miles Alva.
Covered California seeks to renew 1.2 million members — and enroll 500,000 new people.
Alva, 28, works part-time at a video store and is about to graduate from Cal State Northridge. Getting insured is about the last thing on his mind.
“It’s not a priority,” the television and cinema arts student said. “I am not interested in paying for health insurance right now.”
The second round of enrollment under the nation’s Affordable Care Act promises to be tougher than the first. Many of those eager to get covered already did, including those with health conditions that had prevented them from getting insurance in the past. Continue reading
(Screen shot from the Spanish-language version of the Covered California website.)
By Daniela Hernandez, Kaiser Health News
When Fabrizio Mancinelli applied for health insurance through California’s online marketplace nine months ago, he ran into a frustrating snag.
The deadline is midnight, Tuesday, for those who were notified to provide documents proving their legal status.
An Italian composer and self-described computer geek, Mancinelli said he was surprised to find there wasn’t a clear way to upload a copy of his O-1 visa. The document, which grants temporary residency status to people with extraordinary talents in the sciences and arts, was part of his proof to the government that he was eligible for coverage.
So, the 35-year-old Sherman Oaks resident wrote in his application that he’d be happy to send along any further documentation. Continue reading
Covered California executive director Peter Lee, seen here at a November, 2013, press conference. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images)
Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, kicked off its marketing and outreach campaign Monday for the upcoming 2015 open enrollment period. Officials say they forecast enrolling 1.7 million people, about 500,000 more than are presently signed up.
Peter Lee, the agency’s executive director, acknowledged the work ahead. “It won’t be easy,” he said. “In many ways, it will be harder than last year.”
For starters, the next open enrollment runs three months compared to last year’s six month period when more than three million people signed up either for Covered California or to Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid. Continue reading
Leaburn Alexander works two jobs and does not have health insurance. Here, he is on the start of his 3-hour commute home from the job he works as an overnight hotel janitor. (Lisa Morehouse/KQED)
By Lisa Morehouse
When the Affordable Care Act rolled out last fall, Californians enrolled in both Covered California and expanded Medi-Cal in high numbers. But there are still millions in the state without health insurance. Undocumented people don’t qualify for Obamacare benefits. Many others still find coverage too expensive, or face other obstacles in enrolling.
One of those people is Leaburn Alexander. I meet up with him at 6 a.m. as he is finishing his shift as the night janitor at a hotel near the San Francisco Airport. He clocks out just in time to catch the hotel’s shuttle back to SFO, where he will catch a bus.
“Right now I’m on the beginning of my commute,” he tells me. “After an eight hour shift, my commute is like 2 and a half hours.”
I accompany Alexander on his commute to East Palo Alto, about 20 miles south. It actually takes three hours, on the hotel shuttle plus three more buses. He does this commute 5 days a week. Continue reading
Screenshot from CoveredCA.com, the website of Covered California.
By Judy Lin, Associated Press
Some Californians who purchased individual health coverage through the state’s insurance exchange are suddenly being dropped or transferred to Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid program for the poor that fewer doctors and providers accept.
Covered California, which is responsible for determining and directing Californians to an appropriate health plan, has no estimate of how many people are affected, saying only that the changes are occurring as incomes are checked to verify the policyholders can purchase insurance through the exchange.
Since the shifts often happen without warning, there’s confusion and anger among policyholders.
Glendale resident Andrea Beckum learned last month that she and her husband had been shunted to Medi-Cal only after getting a call from their insurance broker telling them their Anthem Blue Cross policy had been canceled. Continue reading
by Mark Sherman
The federal appeals court in Washington threw out a ruling Thursday that called into question the subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people afford their premiums under the president’s health care law.
A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov insurance exchange on October 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted an Obama administration request to have its full complement of judges re-hear a challenge to regulations that allow health insurance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act for consumers in all 50 states.
The announcement diminishes the prospect of Supreme Court review of the issue in the near term. The initial 2-1 appeals court ruling in Washington came out the same day that a panel of appellate judges in Richmond, Virginia, unanimously sided with the administration on the same issue.
The health law’s opponents had hoped that the split rulings would lead the high court to take up the issue soon. Continue reading