Big changes are coming to health insurance in 2014.
If you already have health insurance, you will gain more protection with the plan you have. By law, health insurance companies cannot impose lifetime limits on health benefits, and they will be required to spend 80 percent of their premium dollars on health care.
It also requires all health plans to provide preventive care, such as medical screenings, at no extra cost to the consumers, and cover 10 categories of essential health benefits including mental health services.
Medi-Cal will be also be expanded to cover low-income adults without children. More individuals will now have access to affordable health care coverage, including those with pre-existing health conditions.
If you currently do not have health insurance from your job and will not be eligible for Medi-Cal, you can purchase your coverage through Covered California. Covered California is the online, easy-to-use marketplace for legal residents and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to enroll in quality health care coverage, request for enrollment assistance and receive financial help to make these health plans affordable.
Covered California simplifies your search for standardized health plans depending on where you live. Starting this month, Covered California started its open enrollment to cover millions of eligible individuals. Coverage will then begin as early as January 1, 2014.
You decide which plan will work for you and your family through the four different tiers that the marketplace offers. Because benefits are standardized, you can easily compare pricing from one health plan to another. With platinum coverage, the highest level, you will pay 10 percent of the costs for services; with gold, you pay 20 percent of costs; with silver, you pay 30 percent of costs and with bronze, you pay 40 percent of costs. The higher the metal tier, the higher your monthly premium will be, but you will pay less for medical care. Covered California also offers basic coverage for people under 30 or who are experiencing financial hardship.
Concerned about the price? For those who do not receive coverage from their employers and have low to moderate income, Covered California is the only place that will help you qualify for premium assistance or cost-sharing subsidies to make your coverage more affordable. Premium assistance, or tax credits, will help reduce your monthly premiums. Cost-sharing subsidies will help reduce your co-payments and other medical expenses. Financial assistance will be available on a sliding scale basis, with more assistance for those who earn less.
The Affordable Care Act requires most people to have health insurance in 2014; if you don’t have it, you may have to pay a fee. Covered California is here to provide you information in getting the quality coverage that meets your needs at the price you can afford. In Solano County, Certified Educators and Enrollment Counselors from Solano Coalition for Better Health and other organizations are positioned to outreach, educate and enroll residents starting this fall.
For more information about Covered California, please visit CoveredCA.com or call 1-888-975-1142.
Keirsha Baron is a Covered CA certified educator and health access specialist for Solano Coalition for Better Health. For questions, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.