Covered California builds on Affordable Care Act

Leads to record-low rate change for second consecutive year

OW Staff Writer | 8/13/2020, midnight

Covered California recently announced a record-low insurance premium rate change for the second consecutive year. The preliminary average rate change for California’s individual market is 0.6 percent for the upcoming 2021 plan year, which is the lowest mark since the launch of the Affordable Care Act and follows a rate change of only 0.8 percent in 2020.

“California continues to show the nation what can be done when you build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “California’s bold policies to provide additional state financial help, to reinstate the penalty to encourage consumers to enroll in health care, and to make significant marketing investments in Covered California are providing stability and lower costs in the face of national uncertainty.”

The historically low rate change was driven by California’s efforts to build on the Affordable Care Act through affordability initiatives — the state subsidies and the individual mandate enforcement provision that went into effect in 2020 — as well as ongoing investments in marketing and outreach that have led to increased enrollment and one of the healthiest consumer pools in the nation.

The most recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that California has the second lowest “State Average Plan Liability Risk Score” in the nation, which marked the sixth straight year that California has been among the top five healthiest states.

“Access to affordable health care coverage is more critical than ever as our nation and state navigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Covered California is leading the nation by eliminating barriers to access and providing Californians real opportunities to get the care and coverage they need.”

California’s individual market consists of approximately 2.3 million people, including 1.5 million enrolled through Covered California. Nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent) of those enrolled through the marketplace are getting federal or state subsidies, or both, to lower their costs; the rest are buying coverage directly from carriers in the individual market.

The preliminary average rate change of 0.6 percent varies by region and by an individual’s personal situation.

“Health care costs are never a one-year story, and California has shown — again and again — that it can provide stability and lower costs in the face of federal policy changes that could have resulted in dramatic rate increases,” Lee said. “The past three years can serve as a roadmap for the rest of the nation when it comes to successfully responding to federal challenges, reducing prices and encouraging enrollment.”.

Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can:

• Visit www.CoveredCA.com.

• Get free and confidential assistance over the phone, in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller.

• Have a certified enroller call them and help them for free.

• Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

Interested consumers should go to www.CoveredCA.com to find out if they qualify for financial help and find free local help to enroll. They can contact the Covered California service center for enrollment assistance by calling (800) 300-1506.