California Obamacare Alternatives
Obamacare Alternatives in California
Miss open enrollment?
Didn’t pay for your Obamacare plan?
Lost your coverage?
Not getting a subsidy?
Is Obamacare Too Expensive?
YOU HAVE OPTIONS
Many people didn’t get or can’t get an Obamacare plan, for a variety of reasons, or they didn’t keep the plan they signed up for.
Does that describe you?
You don’t have to be without protection.
Getting insurance is about finding a balance between coverage that lets you sleep well at night and premiums that let you eat during the day.
The links below go to our pages on how to use short term health insurance, fixed benefit medical insurance, and medical gap insurance as low-cost interim coverage between enrollment periods for you and your family.
Portland Benefits Group licensed agents can answer your questions. Health and Life licenses held for OR, WA, CA, AZ, TX, MI, OH, PA, VA, NC, and SC.
Call us now and speak with one of our highly trained agents.
As licensed agents, we can explain how the ACA works and what your options and alternatives are at the most affordable price.
Alternatives to the Obamacare Health Exchanges
There are alternatives to Obamacare’s health exchanges and their intrusive applications and background checks. Obamacare alternatives such as purchasing your qualified health plan of the exchange through an agent or broker are still available and will continue to be available to consumers by shopping outside of the exchange. The link above will take you to our quoting page where you can view Obamacare alternative plans or please just call our office for a free quote.
In California, there are some special circumstances such as Aetna’s retreat from California’s individual health insurance market. Increasing rates by Anthem, Blue Cross, and many other carriers have made Obamacare Alternatives such as catastrophic coverage more attractive to many cost-conscious individuals in good health who just need insurance in case of catastrophic accidents and illnesses. Other Alternative Coverage to the Exchange Plans such as short term medical plans, usually intended for a year of coverage or less, are also an excellent fit for those wanting affordable health insurance that is exempt from Obamacare and therefore far less expensive.
Plenty of Californians interested in Obamacare, but none can enroll online.
FEW ENROLLED: Only a few Medicaid applicants have been enrolled through California’s online health exchange yet. But the call center is fielding thousands interested in Obamacare.
It’s not only the national Affordable Care Act insurance exchange that’s experiencing a host of problems. California, despite setting up its own state exchange for Obamacare insurance, has yet to enroll anyone through its online website for health insurance.
The online exchange, Covered California, launched Oct. 1. Californians can browse for health insurance, but they can’t enroll online. In the past week, the system has seen 100,000 visits to CoveredCa.com and more than 5,000 calls website spokeswoman Ariane Holm told Northwest Watchdog. Since the beginning of October, they’ve had 17,200 calls.
“October 1 was just a starting point,” she added. “We intend to enroll every Californian who applies by Dec. 15 and wishes to get health insurance through Covered California, whether they apply online or through a paper application so that they get the coverage they need starting Jan. 1, 2014.”
Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (PPACA, often called just the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, or “Obamacare”), the government-maintained health insurance exchanges will open for business (that is, assuming the likely government shutdown doesn’t stop them temporarily).
Just to see the contrast, I’ll mention that Jann Bellamy has written about the ACA in the context of how the state of California continues to struggle with problems on its “Covered California” internet health exchange site, as the Democratic Governor of that state says 100 people will be hired to process paper applications because the web site’s enrollment capabilities still aren’t working.
Not only that, but a web page that looks to be from inside the Covered California site – tweeted out by the health exchange on Friday – indicates that only one internet browser will work to submit data for a health insurance application.
“This online application is built and tested for use with Internet Explorer. Using other browsers may cause the form to not work properly,” the web page states.
“The “submit” button does not work when used with the Macintosh Safari or Google Chrome browsers,” adding that Ipads and mobile devices also don’t work.
Also, the warnings on this page say that once you begin the application process, you only have three hours to complete it – over that, and your information is lost.
So far, the Covered California web site has not been able to process any electronic applications for health insurance coverage.
Last Thursday, a who’s who of Families USA and hosted by the advocacy group for health care, The Herndon Alliance. The Alliance’s partners include AARP, AFL-CIO, SEIU, MoveOn and La Raza, among many others. Democratic John Anzalone, Celinda Lake and Stan Greenberg were the call’s main event, and they were there to deliver some bad news. Politico reports: “Democrats are acknowledging the failure of their predictions that the health care legislation would grow more popular after its passage, as its benefits became clear and rhetoric cooled. … The presentation also concedes that the fiscal and economic arguments that were the White House’s first and most aggressive sales pitch have essentially failed.”
Health care is not the only issue where the left is retreating in the face of strong disapproval from the American people. Versionista, a Los Angeles, California-based company that tracks changes to the White House website, reported last week that the Obama administration had made “whole-cloth” changes to its “Energy & Environment” issues page. Out are any references to a cap on carbon emissions and a campaign pledge to spend $150 billion on clean energy technologies. In its place the new White House site includes a three-minute Earth Day-themed video from President Barack Obama. And across the country, leftist Senate candidates in Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana have all come out against President Obama’s impending trillion dollar tax hike, due in January. As satisfying as it is to see Obamacare’s supporters come to terms with the failure of their grand plan, it is not enough for conservatives to just say “no.” Conservatives must have real plans for reform if the American people choose to empower them.
The Heritage Foundation’s Solutions for America chapter on Getting Health Care Reform Right recommends: Repeal Obamacare: There is a precedent for repealing highly unpopular and misguided laws: the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988. Recently, more than 70 percent of Missouri residents rejected a key provision of Obamacare the requirement that individuals purchase a health insurance plan designed and approved by government bureaucrats. The House of Representatives even voted recently to repeal one provision of Obamacare that will impose draconian paperwork requirements on millions of small businesses. The easiest way to address all these grievances: repeal Obamacare. Promote Personal Control Through Tax Equity: Today, workers who purchase coverage through their employer receive an unlimited tax break on the value of their health care benefits.
However, those who purchase coverage on their own receive no comparable tax break. Ideally, the current tax exclusion should be replaced (or at the very least capped) with a system of universal tax credits for taxpayers. Medicaid and CHIP spending should also be redirected to help low-income individuals and families purchase private health insurance Fix Current Government Health Programs: Medicare should be reformed into a defined-contribution system in which the government provides a contribution for benefits and seniors are able to apply their contribution to the health plan that suits them best. Promote Federal-State Partnerships: A one-size-fits-all federal solution cannot accommodate the unique and diverse health care challenges facing the states. The federal government should promote interstate commerce in health insurance, extend certain protections for those who maintain continuous coverage, and provide states with technical assistance and relief from federal rules that inhibit innovation. Provide Portability: choose the health coverage that best suits their needs. To accomplish this, private health insurance must be portable that is, owned by Americans so they can take their package from job to job. There is no better symbol for the daily lives of all Americans than Obamacare.
Los Angeles — For thousands of Californians who already have health insurance, the new year will bring new insurance policies that cover more — and, in some cases, cost more.
And finding a cheaper alternative won’t be as easy as officials had hoped, as Covered California, the state’s new online health insurance marketplace, still isn’t fully running.
Roughly 168,000 Californians buy their insurance individually, rather than getting coverage through an employer or government program. Of those, about 145,000 have plans that do not meet minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act, said Cheryl Martinis, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Division of California’s Department of Consumer and Business Services.
The new health care law, sometimes called Obamacare, requires that all health insurance policies provide a certain level of coverage beginning Jan. 1. There are some exceptions, however. About 23,000 Californians have “grandfathered” insurance plans that don’t meet the minimum requirements but will continue anyway.
Insurance companies are not required to notify Californians with “grandfathered” plans, according to Martinis. But a representative from HealthNet — the company with the majority of these plans — said those customers will be notified by mail.
In recent weeks, thousands of Californians have received letters from their insurance companies informing them that their current plan will be replaced at the start of next year.
Those who do nothing will not face a gap in coverage. Instead, they’ll be automatically enrolled by their current insurance company in whichever new plan is most similar to the one they have now.
That plan could cost more money. In some cases, a lot more money.
Choosing a different plan or provider could be cheaper. And about 400,000 Californians will qualify for financial assistance to help afford health insurance.
The new health care law provides subsidies and tax credits for people who aren’t offered insurance by their employers and who make less than $45,960 for a single person or $94,200 for a family of four.
“I think our biggest concern is that people understand their options, see if they qualify for financial help and find the coverage that best fits their needs,” wrote Martinis, the insurance division spokeswoman, in an email.
That’s easier said than done, however.
This is where the complicated new health care law gets even more sticky. The way officials spoke about Obamacare, people believed they would have all of the necessary information available at the same time, so they could browse new plans while understanding how much financial help was available to them.
Instead, consumers have been notified that their old plans are ending — and, in many cases, informed that their replacement plan will cost a lot more — without being able to calculate available subsidies and easily compare new plans.
Covered California, the state’s new health insurance exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act, was supposed to provide an online hub for all of this information, a sort of Orbitz or Expedia for health insurance. Currently, visitors to the site can enter information such as their age, ZIP code and household income to compare available insurance plans and estimate whether they qualify for financial aid. But the site does not yet allow people to enroll directly in a new plan or sign up for subsidies. This matters because the exchange is not only important for its comparative shopping purposes. To take advantage of financial assistance, consumers have to enroll in their insurance plans through Cover California.
The trouble is, the website isn’t fully working yet. When the health insurance marketplace launched on Oct. 1, officials warned consumers that the site wouldn’t be wholly functional until later in the month. Now November has arrived, and officials have stopped offering any timeline at all.
We have a clear plan to get the online system up and have already made great progress,” said Rocky King, executive director of Cover California, in a prepared statement Thursday. “We want to reassure Californiaians that technological setbacks will have no impact on their ability to enroll in an insurance plan that meets their needs and budget.”
For Californians looking for a new plan to take effect Jan. 1, however, the Dec. 15 enrollment deadline is fast-approaching.
In the meantime, Covered California officials are urging consumers to fill out an application with a certified insurance agent or community partner, who can be found by visiting www.coveredca.com or by calling. Consumers may also submit an application on the Covered California site.
Low-income Californians who receive an enrollment letter may choose the “Fast Track” enrollment for the Medi-cal and Healthy Kids, the state’s version of Medicaid, and sign up for coverage without going through Covered California. About 260,000 letters were mailed and more than 62,000 people have already signed up.
More than 17,000 people have submitted applications to Covered California for insurance coverage. Until the website is fixed, those applications will be processed by hand.
“We do not anticipate having to process all the paper applications we have received by hand, but we are not going to rush out a site that doesn’t meet our standards,” wrote Michael Cox, a spokesman for Covered California, in an email.
Many Aetna customers will find themselves on a slightly different timeline that may give them time to wait for Cover California to get up and running. Approximately 84,800 Californians have individual insurance policies through Aetna.
Deana Strunk, a spokeswoman for Aetna, said that’s because all of the company’s individual policies have the same annual renewal date which happens to fall in September.
When the state was planning the Obamacare rollout, it made an exception for individuals with these plans so they wouldn’t be re-enrolled and then face a new enrollment period the following month.
Those individuals have until March 31 to choose a new plan or be automatically enrolled in a similar one. Strunk said these customers will receive notices in the mail beginning later this month.
With all of the national attention on Obamacare and upcoming changes to individual policies, insurance companies say they’re bracing for plenty of confusion. Echoing the advice of state officials, they urge people to turn to their insurance agent or insurance company — or Covered California’s hotline — with questions.
Colleen Thompson, a spokeswoman for Anthem, said about 22,500 of the company’s Central California customers have been notified that their current plans will end with the calendar year.
“There’s a misconception that Covered California is the only path to individual coverage, and we’re helping people who clearly won’t qualify for tax subsidies enroll now, either direct with us or through an insurance agent,” Thompson wrote in an email. “They don’t need to enroll through Covered California.”