Unlike Trump, Covered California Really Wants You To Know About Open Enrollment

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The Affordable Care Act may be facing an uncertain future in Washington D.C., but it is a different story in California.

Business wasn’t exactly booming Wednesday at a kick-off event in Oakland, for the open enrollment period for the state’s healthcare exchange — Covered California, but organizers say the state’s health insurance marketplace is healthier than ever.

“We’re trying to make sure people know what’s going on in California…,” said Covered California agent Marshan Harris said.

Unlike the federal government, which slashed funds for advertising and trimmed enrollment periods, California’s going all out with an advertising blitz, a bus tour and daily signup events.

And one message they’re sending is: the majority of customers will not see big rate increases.

Insurance Broker Jonathan Greer said, “California came up with an ingenious solution…”

Because President Donald Trump decided to stop making payments to insurance companies to help cover enrollee’s co-pays and deductibles — payments known as cost-sharing reductions — California has come up with a work-around to keep prices in check for 2018.

“They artificially raised costs of the silver plans so consumers will get more of a tax benefit, to offset the cost of their premiums,” Greer said.

He says the tax benefit is applied automatically and goes straight to the insurance company. And he says the work-around applies to all metal tiers.

Greer said, “The government has to pay these tax credits…”

Another change this year? One less provider. Anthem has pulled out of every Bay Area county, except Santa Clara.

“People who have Anthem policies need to check with their doctors and find out which Covered California individual plans they take,” Greer said.

Current enrollee Owen Dockham doesn’t have to worry about that.

The fitness trainer plans to stick with his bronze Kaiser plan though his rates for next year still aren’t clear.

“My premium could be, according to my broker, $38 a month, and according to the website, $200 a month…” Owen said.

That’s one argument for going to a broker or a registered agent who is well versed in the plans.

Open enrollment lasts three months in California, ending January 31.

More from Allen Martin
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