Covered California announced this week that as of March 14th, one million Californians have now selected a plan through Covered California, the state health care marketplace.
This one million figure does not include millions who are newly covered, or getting new help with coverage, through other components of the Affordable Care Act. Last week, state officials confirmed that over 2 million Californians were determined eligible for Medi-Cal coverage under the expansion, including 650,000 who were switched from county-based Low-Income Health Programs that served as a “bridge to health reform” since the ACA’s passage. Also, over 400,000 young adults up to age 26 now on their parents coverage, many are buying new (or continued) guaranteed issue health insurance plans, and some Californians get coverage through small employers who are getting new tax breaks.
Of the one million Californians, it is expected that over 85% will pay premiums to the insurer they select and become officially enrolled. Also, 85% of Covered California enrollees to date have been subsidy eligible.
Health Access will have even more information in a new report later this week to mark the 4th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. But this news was too big to hold onto!
Covered California has not just passed the million mark, but has surpassed the projections of its board and of leading academics and experts. It is on track by the end of March (and the first open enrollment period) to surpass the goals set for the end of the year and the second open enrollment period. Given California had one of the worst rates of uninsurance in the nation, it’s not a shock there’s a great demand for these new coverage options and benefits. Californians know that being uninsured means living sicker, dying younger, and being one emergency away from financial ruin. Many of these one million Californians in Covered California are newly covered or have coverage that is cheaper or better than what they had before.
We are pleased California is leading in the nation, with over a fifth of the national plan sign-ups, a result of our state appropriately taking full advantage of the solutions offered by the Affordable Care Act. It’s impressive that the numbers have been so high even though some obstacles remain, from website glitches and outages to long waits on the phone. While for some enrollment has been easy, too many have not gotten the world class customer service that has been the goal, and Covered California needs to continue to work on improving it. Californians should take advantage of these benefits as soon as possible, before the crush of the March 31st deadline. Every day we leave folks unenrolled is a day we are leaving money in Washington, DC, rather than having those dollars come into the health system on which we all rely, our economy, and our community.