Today is the last day to apply for health insurance through Covered California if you would like your coverage to start by January 1st, 2016!
Covered California is the health insurance marketplace where Californians can get brand-name health insurance under the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act. Californians can qualify for federal premium assistance and discounts to help buy private insurance from top quality companies. Alternatively, people can also qualify for health insurance through the state’s Medi-Cal program. Either way, great health coverage is available.
The open enrollment period is from 11/1/15 through 1/31/16. In order to kick-in your coverage starting January 1st, 2016, you must apply for coverage by today, 12/15/15. If you apply after the 15th of December, coverage will begin later. As long as you meet the January 31st, 2016 enrollment deadline, you can avoid owing a tax penalty for being uninsured.
Below are some common questions to help you understand a bit more about how Covered California works:
What if I choose not to get health insurance?
Under the mandate set by the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are required to have health insurance. If you choose to remain uninsured, you may face a tax penalty.
How does Covered California work?
Covered California is the marketplace Californians can get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Upon submitting your application, you can see if you qualify for financial subsidies from the federal government to help you pay your monthly premiums.
Coverage is based on estimated income for the coverage year, your ZIP code, household size, age and the health plan/benefit level selected. Low-income and moderate-income households can get help buying insurance from Covered Caliifornia through monthly subsidies that lower premium costs.
Premiums are not determined by pre-existing conditions, meaning insurance companies can no longer charge a person a higher premium nor can they refuse to cover someone due to pre-existing health conditions.
You can shop online, in person, by phone, or contact us for a free consultation for assistance to help you compare different health insurance plans and learn if you qualify for financial help and federal tax credits to reduce monthly premiums.
How do premium assistance and cost-sharing reductions work?
There are 2 main types of help to pay for coverage:
1) Premium Assistance: A tax credit to reduce a person’s monthly premium cost.
In order to qualify, there are certain income requirements that must be met. To be eligible:
-Must be a US Citizen/National/Lawfully present immigrant buying insurance through Covered California
-Annual household income between 138-400% of FPL (federal poverty level)
-Not have access to other public health coverage/affordable minimum value health insurance through an employer.
2) Cost-Sharing Reductions: Subsidies to reduce an individual’s out-of-pocket costs (co-pays, coinsurance, out-of-pocket maximum).
Individuals who are eligible for premium assistance and have an annual household income of up to 250% of the FPL can qualify for cost-sharing reductions. You will find out if you qualify for cost-sharing reductions after completing the Covered California application. If you qualify, you will only receive them if you select a Silver-level plan.
What are the plan options?
You’ll have a choice of buying insurance from at least two but as many as six private insurance companies, depending on where you live. The vast majority of Covered California consumers have access to insurance plans from at least three different companies. Each plan offers products in multiple metal tiers (or coverage levels), which vary whether you want to pay more for your monthly premium and less when you use care, or pay less for your premium and more when you use care. Consumers with limited incomes may learn they qualify for Medi-Cal.
To see which brand-name insurance companies offer plans in your area, use the Shop and Compare Tool.
How much does it cost?
Use the Shop and Compare Tool to get an estimate of what your costs may be for coverage starting the 2016 year. You can use this tool to input your income, zip code, and household size. Please note, you will need to re-enter this information during the application process, but this tool will help you get a general idea of what your costs may be like.
What if my income changes throughout the coverage year?
Household size, income and ZIP code are the items on this list that are most likely to change during the year. If you move, it is important to notify Covered California so your mailing address can be updated. Additionally, if your ZIP code is in a new plan region, you will need to pick a new plan, and your premium amount and premium assistance will likely change.
It’s also really important to notify Covered California about changes in your household size and income, because these are part of how your premium assistance is calculated. If your household size and projected income change a lot during the year, the amount of premium assistance you are eligible for will also change. So, during the year, it’s important to consider the income you entered at the time of your application and to notify Covered California if your income changes significantly, so that your premium assistance amount can be adjusted.
You can report changes in your income through your online account, with the help of a certified enroller or by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.
Where can I apply?
You can apply for coverage by creating an account on the Covered CA website and submitting your application online. You may also contact us for a complimentary consultation to assist you with the application process. Be sure to have your documents handy when filling out your application. To speed up the process, have your financial documents ready, such as income information (tax return/W-2) and bank statements to verify proof of income. In case additional information is needed on your application, be prepared to scan these documents online through the portal. Be sure that you are inputting income information for the year of coverage. If your income has changed significantly from the year before, be sure to have the necessary proof available to display your current income situation.
Be sure to submit your application by today or contact our office if you need any assistance in moving forward with the Covered California process. Don’t forget we offer a complimentary consultation and happy to answer any more of your questions! To schedule your complimentary consultation, please call us at 626-358-4663, visit our website , or email us!
Make note of today’s deadline to get coverage right away at the beginning of the New Year!
(source: Covered California)