For the most part, this press release from CoveredCA is just a nice overview of the new offerings available on the little-discussed SHOP (small business) ACA exchange. As you may recall, CA was one of the few SHOP exchanges which ever got off the ground at all last year, and even then technical issues resulted in the exchange taking it offline back in February. When I last updated CA's SHOP total, it was at only 4,900 people...however, according to this PR, that number has more than doubled since last spring, and now stands at 11,510:
Sept. 19, 2014
COVERED CALIFORNIA ANNOUNCES INSURANCE PLANS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IN 2015
Carriers Remain Consistent, but New and Expanded • Choices Are Now Available to Employees
Another Big Number story today on top of the national and Illinois ones. My most recent numbers for California Medicaid expansion had it pegged at around 1.4 million "strict expansion" and around 600K "woodworkers" as of late June. However, that was just an estimate.
This article about a class action lawsuit being filed over the massive Medi-Cal backlog (down to 350K from a whopping 900K back in May) is mostly negative for obvious reasons. However, there's an interesting data point in the middle of it:
According to state officials, 2.2 million new Medi-Cal members were added as a result of the Obamacare healthcare expansion, bringing the total number of participants in the program to about 11 million.
State Department of Health Care Services spokesman Norman Williams said that as of Sept. 1, 350,000 applications remained backed up in the enrollment system. That system has been plagued by computer troubles that have stymied county government efforts to verify patients' Medi-Cal eligibility.
The backlog was as large as 900,000 earlier in the summer.
OK, I admit that aside from tracking the actual enrollee numbers, I don't know a whole lot about the inner workings of Medi-Cal, California's version of Medicaid. However, if accurate, this just sounds...wrong:
I posted a diary here on August 26 about California turning Medi-Cal into a long term loan for recipients aged 55+ by billing their estates after they die for all of their Medi-Cal expenses. The bureaucrats call that “estate recovery.” I call it legal theft. A bill to remedy this situation and protect low income property owners has unanimously passed the California legislature. The bill has now gone to the governor to be signed. But he is planning to veto it!
Today, many organizations are jointly sponsoring a call-in to the governor's office to put pressure on Governor Brown to sign SB 1124. More information about the call-in is at the bottom of this diary. But first, some background information.
Between my son being sick for the past 4 days (he's better now, thanks!), losing my internet connection for 2 days (it's back up now, thanks!) and just generally being swamped with work, I don't have time to give these stories the attention they deserve, but they're all worth checking out:
Looking to avoid the pitfalls and confusion that surrounded the launch of Obamacare, California is gearing up to get 1.2 million people to renew their health policies for next year.
This caught my eye because the total QHP enrollment number for California was actually 1,405,102 as of 4/19.
Now, Peter Lee did state that 85% of that number had paid their first month's premium as of just a week later, by 4/27...and as it happens, 1.2 / 1.4 = 85.7%, so it's possible that this is what the "1.2 million" refers to.
I signed up for Anthem Blue Cross to meet the May deadline. My previous employer also was Anthem Blue Cross, with prescription drug benefits. As I am starting a new business, I chose to go with Covered California through Anthem Blue Cross. The same company, without the drug coverage — or so I thought. Here's what I got:
Cost $845 a month, $5,000 deductible.
Family physician doesn't take the plan.
Wife's gynecologist doesn't take the plan.
Dermatologist doesn't take the plan.
Dentist doesn't take the Covered California dental plan.
So for $10,140 in annual premiums and $5,000 deductible, I am now searching for new doctors for my family.
This is flat-out wrong and should be stopped/fixed immediately:
A worrisome trend is emerging among some Californians who thought they were safe and secure under Covered California: Their plans are being canceled without consent and sometimes without notice.
...A growing number of Californians with Covered California plans are learning – sometimes through happenstance – that their plans no longer exist. Some, like Manahan, are getting shunted into Medi-Cal. Others are dropped outright.
...Covered California acknowledges that it is yanking some people off of its plans and putting them on Medi-Cal, months after they signed up or submitted income information.
We’re “in the process of manually verifying the documents provided by individuals who were conditionally eligible for obtaining health care coverage through our agency,” says Covered California spokesman James Scullary. “Through that process, some customers will receive notices indicating they are now eligible for no-cost or low-cost Medi-Cal coverage.”
Vermont signed a revised contract with the tech firm Optum that expands its role in Vermont Health Connect’s operations.
Optum already had a contract worth $5.6 million for consulting work, and the latest deal, signed Aug. 15, is worth an additional $9.5 million for a total of $15.1 million.
...At latest count, Optum has helped the state halve its backlog of coverage changes and information errors from a high of more than 14,000 to roughly 7,000. Also, close to 4,000 people are having billing issues with Vermont Health Connect. There is some overlap between the two groups, Miller said.
OK, a couple of caveats here: First, yes, it's California; obviously this isn't exactly representative of states like, say, Oklahoma or Alabama. Second, CoveredCA had a much smoother rollout last fall than HC.gov did (and some of the other state exchanges are still struggling with serious technical issues).
Having said all that, California does still have over 12% of the total U.S. population, and they do tend to be early adopters historically. With that in mind...
The nation’s new health care law is surging in popularity in the Golden State, according to the Field Poll, which finds more Californians today — of all political stripes — support the Affordable Care Act than at any time since it was signed into law four years ago.
And by a two-to-one margin, they praise the successful way it’s been rolled out in the state, compared to the federal government’s glitch-ridden system.
Still more now say they’re satisfied with the way the health care system is working in the state, compared to a year ago.