Covered California is open for business, more or less, but many Californians won’t go there if they need health insurance for themselves or their families. Instead they’ll turn to health insurance agents and buy coverage directly from insurance companies.
The On-Exchange Plans
For the roughly two million Californians who currently buy health insurance on their own, only about a third will qualify for government tax subsidies - and to get the subsidy, people must buy through Covered California.
The Off-Exchange Plans
Without a subsidy to offset rates, there’s no compelling reason for the majority of individual health insurance customers to shop on the exchange. People who earn too much to expect government help will be shopping for off-exchange plans, where they’ll have more options and the process is much faster.
What are Off-Exchange Plans?
Off-exchange plans will still be required to meet 10 benefits standards outlined in the health care law. People shouldn’t make any rushed decisions. Many of the off-exchange plans are not yet available because government regulators still need to approve them. So you are still not seeing all the options that are going to be available.
There’s No Rush
The ACA plans will go live on Jan. 1. People have until Dec. 15 to enroll in a plan that will start on the first of the year. And they can enroll as late as Mar 31, 2014 for guaranteed-issue coverage.
Most people with existing individual policies in California will get new plans by the end of the year. That’s because those individual plans don’t meet the standards outlined in Obamacare and must be upgraded to comply with the law. So when that letter from your insurance carrier shows up in the mail, pay attention.
If the plan you have now is grandfathered, you don’t have to do anything. If it is not grandfathered and you do nothing, you health insurance carrier will transition you to a ACA compliant plan that is closest in coverage and rate to your current plan.
All new plans will have to cover a minimum set of medical costs and include standardized benefits. That means that the more than one million California residents who now have individual plans, and are not eligible for subsidies, will very likely be paying a higher monthly premium.