Observer Group Newspapers of Southern California Inc. via Covered California News
During this historic COVID pandemic, more people than ever before signed up for health insurance through Covered California, the state agency that administers the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).
With a record 1.6 million consumers now enrolled in brand-name health plans through Covered California, the agency recently announced that the renewal process is now underway for its current members for health coverage in 2022. The good news is that he vast majority of Covered California members will receive financial help, from the new American Rescue Plan, that will dramatically lower their monthly health care costs.
This year, Covered California has also seen an uptick in African Americans enrolling in health plans, with quality health care being critical during the pandemic. African American enrollment in Covered California health plans increased more than 30 percent in 2021 over last year.
“Covered California continues to meet the needs of the state’s diverse population during this pandemic and heads into the upcoming open-enrollment period next month with more enrollees than ever,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “The surge in enrollment is driven by the increased financial help and lower monthly premiums made possible by the American Rescue Plan, which is helping more Californians than ever to get access to quality and affordable health care – no matter their income level.”
New Financial Help and Credits Available to Lower Monthly Health Plan Costs to $0
The American Rescue Plan provides new and expanded financial help that will be available throughout 2022, which will help Californians across all income levels. The financial help covers about 90 percent of a consumer’s monthly health insurance premiums, making the cost of health coverage more affordable than ever before. It’s important to note that you can only get this financial help through Covered California.
Covered California also estimates that about 1 million of its existing members will be eligible for coverage at no cost because of a new state law called the California Premium Credit. The new law means that some consumers will be able to get the same comprehensive health coverage – with all the benefits and protections of the Affordable Care Act – for free, and the State of California will be providing a credit of $1 per member per month for all Covered California members throughout 2022.
“Getting more people insured, and keeping them insured, not only leads to better health outcomes – it also lowers the cost of health insurance for everyone,” Lee said. Current Covered California enrollees can begin renewing their health coverage now, and they have until Dec. 31 to renew their existing health plan or make changes to their plans for 2022. People who do
not actively select a plan for next year will be renewed in their current health plan, so they do not suffer a gap in coverage.
When consumers renew their coverage, many will find that they have more choices to choose from this year. Three of Covered California’s health insurance companies will be expanding their coverage areas, and a new company will be joining the marketplace, bringing the total number of health carriers to 12 for 2022. These are brand-name health insurance companies — Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Bright Health Care, Chinese Community Health Plan, Healthnet, Kaiser, L.A. Care, Molina Healthcare, Oscar, Sharp Health Plan, Valley Health Care, Western Health Advantage — who offer quality care through some of the best doctors and hospitals in the state.
Free Preventive Health Care Always Available with Covered California Plans
Not only will renewing consumers have choice of health plans, but they should be reminded that Covered California health plans are designed to make it easier for someone to get the preventive health care they need for free – including annual physicals, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, flu shots and all other immunizations, and screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
As African American disproportionately suffer from chronic health conditions and diseases like hypertension, diabetes, asthma and cancer, these preventive health care services and screenings can literally be lifesaving.
And with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, such preventive health care services are top of mind for many people. Free mammograms are always available to women with Covered California health plans, and early detection of breast cancer is key – especially among African American women.
According to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, African American women have a 31 percent breast cancer mortality rate – the highest of any U.S. racial or ethnic group. Among women younger than 45, the breast cancer incidence is much higher among African American women that white women, and the mortality rate for Black women diagnosed with breast cancer is 42 percent higher than the comparable rate for White women.
In addition, Covered California health plans offer free video telehealth visits with primary care physicians, along with free mental health care and substance abuse services, of particular importance during these challenging times.
Easily Renew Your Health Coverage for 2022 Covered California members renewing health insurance for 2022 should go to CoveredCA.com, log in to your account and click on the “RENEW” button. You may also use the Shop and Compare Tool to see your health plan options and cost. It is important to review your health plan during the renewal period because you could receive additional financial help from the American Rescue Plan to lower the monthly cost of health insurance. This means you may now qualify for financial help, even if you didn’t in the past. Or you may receive even more help than you did before! The amount of financial help you may get depends on your income, age, where you live and your family size. For questions or additional help renewing your Covered California health plan, contact an enrollment expert in your area for free assistance or call Covered California (800) 300-1506.