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There’s something new in this year’s Covered California open-enrollment period: Consumers are learning whether they will qualify for new state-funded financial aid. The results are mixed, with some scoring hundreds of dollars per month and others nothing.
Come Jan. 1, California will be the first state to offer financial aid to middle-class people who make too much money to qualify for federal Obamacare tax credits. And Californians will once again owe a penalty if they are uninsured.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on an array of health care bills that will significantly affect the lives of Californians, including many college students, pregnant women, schoolchildren and dialysis patients.
States increasingly expect to see insurers enter or re-enter ACA marketplaces next year. That’s a critical sign that these exchanges are growing less risky for insurers despite ongoing political and legal battles over the ACA.
Premiums will grow by an average of 0.8% next year on the state health insurance exchange. Officials cite two new policies for the relatively low rate hike: a new state tax penalty on Californians who don’t have health insurance coupled with state-based tax credits to help enrollees afford their premiums, including middle-income people who make too much money to qualify for federal financial aid.
Even though the number of people renewing their Covered California health plans increased this year, new enrollment plunged by nearly a quarter compared with last year, posting a bigger drop than the federal health insurance exchange, healthcare.gov, which saw a 16 percent decrease. Officials largely blame the elimination of the federal tax penalty for people without insurance.
A new report shows that Hispanics, young people, the healthy and the poor — all groups with high rates of uninsurance before the Affordable Care Act — are the most likely to forgo insurance now that the tax penalty for not having it has been eliminated.
To keep costs down, Blue Shield of California next year will scale back on a program allowing members to receive a wide range of care beyond the state’s borders. Customers with individual plans mostly won’t be able to get coverage out of state except for emergencies or other exceptional circumstances.
As consumers weigh health insurance options during open enrollment, location matters. Some parts of the country are seeing drops in premiums while others are experiencing another year of sticker shock.