Covered California health insurance exchange open enrollment begins

This week marked the start of the registration period for people to buy health plans for 2019.

Covered California has opened its doors for selling health insurance to state residents who don’t receive benefits through the government or their employers. The insurance exchange is now selling plans for 2019 coverage.

The state-run insurance marketplace gives Californians up until December 15 to enroll.

Consumers who purchase their plans through Covered California by December 15 will have their coverage in place as of January 1, 2019. That said, there is a second deadline available, as well. California residents have until January 15 to enroll in a health insurance plan that will become effective as of February 1, 2019.

Next year, the rules will be changing rather significantly in terms of the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, said a SF Chronicle report. It represents the first year that American consumers can choose not to purchase health insurance without having to pay a tax penalty. The reason is that near the end of 2017, Congress passed legislation to eliminate the tax penalty for failing to obtain insurance coverage. That essentially removed the individual mandate component of President Obama’s signature health care reform law.

Covered California officials expect fewer people to obtain coverage and rising premiums will result.

Without the penalty as incentive to encourage people to purchase a health plan, California officials expect that the exchange will see a 12 percent enrollment reduction. Moreover, they predict a 9 percent increase in premiums for the average policyholder renewing their plan, due to the reduced enrollment.

Consumers who have been watching the health care reforms over the last year have been cautiously awaiting to see the changes in what they will be paying. Only time will truly tell who many people who already have plans through the insurance exchange will choose to renew. Moreover, it is also not yet known how many consumers will enroll for the first time if they are no longer facing a tax penalty for not doing so.

While some Covered California users feel that the situation isn’t ideal, but having the covecovered california open enrollmentrage is better than not having it, others may not be as enthusiastic about the monthly premiums, particularly if they feel they are already healthy and are at a low risk of needing medical services. In California, approximately 2.3 million people purchased health plans from the insurance exchange for 2018. Nearly half, 1.1 million, receive federal financial assistance to reduce the premiums they pay. About 1.2 million pay their premiums without the subsidies.

 

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