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Health Equity Forum: Covered California Update – October 2015

Covered California Gearing Up for Open Enrollment Starting November 1st

The last few months have been very busy for Covered California as it prepares for the third open enrollment period starting at the end of this week. A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that over half of California’s remaining uninsured are eligible for Medi-Cal or for subsidized coverage through Covered California. This shows that there is another great opportunity to continue reducing California’s uninsured population this open enrollment period which runs from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016.

There are a number of resources available, particularly for Limited English Proficient populations, to help maximize enrollment. These include:

  • Online: Covered California's website is available in English and Spanish, and there are now landing pages in additional languages, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog
  • By Mail: Translated applications for health coverage and fact sheets are available in 12 languages (follow the language links below for resources in those languages).
  • In Person: Local enrollment assistance is available through Covered California and its community partners.
  • By Phone: Covered California's telephone help line: 1-800-300-1506 provides interpreters in any language. There are also dedicated, toll-free numbers for telephone assistance available in 12 languages:

Arabic: 1-800-826-6317
Armenian: 1-800-996-1009
Chinese: 1-800-300-1533
Farsi: 1-800-921-8879

Hmong: 1-800-771-2156
Khmer: 1-800-906-8528
Korean: 1-800-738-9116
Lao: 1-800-357-7976

Russian: 1-800-778-7695
Spanish: 1-800-300-0213
Tagalog: 1-800-983-8816
Vietnamese: 1-800-652-9528

Covered California announces 2016 premiums: In July, Covered California announced new premium rates for health coverage in 2016. The statewide weighted average increase will be 4%, which is lower than last year’s increase of 4.2%. This is a dramatic change from the huge rate increases Californians endured prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Covered California has tentatively selected 12 health insurance companies to offer health coverage that begins on January 1, 2016. All health insurance companies offered for coverage in 2015 will be offered for 2016. Two new health insurance companies, Oscar and UnitedHealthcare, will be offered in select parts of the state for 2016 to increase consumer choice in those areas.

Covered California to offer dental care for adults: Starting in 2016, Covered California will offer supplemental dental coverage for adults through optional family dental plans. This is in addition to the offer of children’s dental coverage which was embedded in all health insurance plans in 2015.

Health plan contracts for 2017 under negotiation: Covered California recently updated its model contract with Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) for the 2016 plan year and is currently engaged in discussions surrounding the 2017 contract. The new 2016 contract includes performance penalties and credits tied to the new federal Quality Rating System for state-based exchanges and penalties and credits tied to completion of Covered California’s Request for Information from QHPs on the specific activities health plans are undertaking to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate health coverage to their enrollees. Missing from the 2016 requirements is how Covered California will hold QHPs accountable for meeting targeted reductions in health disparities. CPEHN is urging Covered California to adopt specific quality measures by key enrollee demographics such as race, ethnicity, language, gender, and sexual orientation. Covered California is also considering changes to its standard benefit designs, which CPEHN and others are following to ensure any proposed changes do not confuse consumers or have a discriminatory impact on low-income communities and communities of color.

Covered California's newest Board Member: Former State Senator and Assemblymember Art Torres was recently appointed to the Covered California Board of Directors by Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon. Torres is vice chair of the Governing Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In addition to serving in the State Legislature, Torres was  the chair of the Assembly Health Committee where he focused his efforts on improving California’s Medi-Cal system.