Covered California

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Covered California Now At A Mall Near You

Sign outside a health insurance agency which seeks to lure customers on their way to the Sunvalley mall in Concord. (Marc Protenic/Health Markets)

Health Markets Insurance opened this storefront near the Sunvalley shopping center in Concord to capitalize on shoppers en route to the mall.  (Marc Protenic/Health Markets)

By April Dembosky

While shoppers flock to the malls to pick up the last neckties and Transformers on their Christmas lists, Covered California is trying to pitch them on an unconventional gift this holiday season: health insurance.

People headed to the mall for Christmas shopping see Covered California storefronts and think, “Oh my God, I have to do that.”

The state’s health insurance marketplace supported the development of more than 200 new storefronts at or near shopping centers across the state this year, each tasked with explaining the ins and outs of different health plans to holiday, and everyday, shoppers.

“Especially during this time of year, malls have incredible foot traffic,” says James Scullary, a Covered California spokesperson. “You may have someone who is running an errand or picking someone up who passes one of these facilities, and it passes in their mind: this is something they need to take care of.” Continue reading

Looking Ahead — and Back — at Obamacare in California

The second year of open enrollment for Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, is underway. Scott Shafer of KQED’s Newsroom, spoke with State of Health editor Lisa Aliferis about how enrollment is going this year, including an upcoming Supreme Court challenge. They also looked back at the historic rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Continue reading

Covered California Sign Ups Continue at Strong Pace

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. (Max Whitaker/Getty Images)

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. (Max Whitaker/Getty Images)

Just over 144,000 new people signed up for health insurance on the Covered California marketplace during the first month of open enrollment, officials said Wednesday.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, noted that the state is now one-third of the way through open enrollment, which ends Feb. 15. At the same point last year, 110,000 people had picked a plan.

Lee said enrollment was going “remarkably smoothly” so far, although there have been “some small glitches along the way.”

Covered California is targeting 1.7 million enrollees for 2015, including renewing 1.2 million current customers and netting half a million new people. Continue reading

Tough Sell Getting Students Interested in Health Insurance

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 10.31.49 AM

Just three people attended a presentation on Covered California held recently at San Diego State University. (Nicholas McVicker/KPBS)

By Kenny Goldberg, KPBS

At a recent Covered California forum at San Diego State University, you could have heard a pin drop. There were only three students in the audience.

“I don’t think they realize that you’re healthy until you’re not. And that’s not the time to get coverage,” Jan Spencley, San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage.

Still, presenter Jan Spencley went through her entire PowerPoint routine.

Spencley directs the non-profit San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage. She told the students that without health insurance, one accident could saddle them with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

And that would ruin their credit.

“You don’t get a phone on your own, you don’t get an apartment on your own, you don’t buy a car on your own if your credit’s messed up,” she told the students. Continue reading

Covered California Enrollment ‘Very Strong’ So Far

Covered California executive director Peter Lee. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

Covered California executive director Peter Lee. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

More than 290,000 people have signed up on Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, officials announced Wednesday. That number includes both people who qualify for private health insurance on the exchange or Medi-Cal.

People need to sign up by Dec. 15 for coverage that starts Jan. 1.
Open enrollment started Nov. 15. Of the 130,000 people who have qualified for Covered California, nearly 50,000 of them have both completed the application and selected a plan. That compares to about 30,000 people who selected a plan during the first month of open enrollment last year.

In a press call, Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, called that pace “very strong.” People have until Monday to sign up for coverage that will start Jan. 1. “We expect that the next few days and this weekend, we’ll see continued and even growing interest in enrollment,” Lee said. Continue reading

Map: See How Obamacare Transformed Health Insurance Coverage in California

By Ronald Campbell, CHCF Center for Health Reporting

In 2013, 6.6 million Californians lacked health insurance.

Then came the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. By April of this year, Covered California, the
state’s health insurance marketplace, had enrolled 1.4 million people, although not all of them were previously uninsured. Today 1.12 million remain enrolled. An additional 2.5 million people enrolled through July in Medi-Cal, the state’s health plan for the poor.

In the map, click on a county to see the pre-ACA uninsured rate — and the number of people who signed up for Covered California or Medi-Cal. The Census Bureau will have data on 2014 total insurance coverage in September 2015.

Health Reform in California: A State of Accelerating Change

Gail Fulbeck and her husband paid $2,500 a month for health insurance in 2013. This year, they signed up for a Covered California plan and pay $165. (Lauren Whaley/Center for Health Reporting)

Gail Fulbeck and her husband paid $2,500 a month for health insurance in 2013. This year, they signed up for a Covered California plan and pay $165. (Lauren Whaley/Center for Health Reporting)

By Deborah Schoch and Lauren M. Whaley, CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Gail Fulbeck, 64, relies on her body for work. She hauls soda, energy drinks, snacks and water to the 23 vending machines she owns around downtown Sacramento.

The physical demands of her job, coupled with her husband’s history of migraines and bad knees, make health insurance essential.

Last year, Fulbeck and her husband paid a monthly insurance premium of $2,555.

Starting Jan. 1 of this year, the couple’s premium for a nearly identical plan totaled $165. It was, she said, almost unbelievable. Continue reading

Notices Sent: Covered California Commences 2015 Renewal

Screenshot from CoveredCA.com, the website of Covered California.

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

Second Obamacare Enrollment Likely to Be Even Tougher Than First

Miles Alva, 28, says getting insured is not a priority and would rather deal with the penalty. (Heidi de Marco/KHN).

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

Immigrants Scramble to Prove Eligibility for Covered California

A report from Berkeley's Greenlining Institute called on Covered California to make its enrollment website available in more languages than English and Spanish.

(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