The previous articles covered Part I and Part II, and this final segment describes the 3rd of 3 Actions To Keep Affordable Health Coverage- Private Insurance. [Small Employers should read about huge penalties beginning August 2015]
Going directly to the insurance carrier (Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Cigna, HealthNet and others) is easier than going through Covered California and the prices are virtually identical under California law.
In our opinion, the only reason one would choose the Covered California exchange (Part II of story) over your 3rd option (private insurance) is the likelihood of receiving a subsidy or Advance Premium Tax Credt. Otherwise, CoveredCA is not worth the hassle, due to the burden of providing tax forms, proof of California residency, employment information etc.
Deadlines: Regardless of your choice among the 3 Actions To Keep Affordable Health Coverage, the 60 day limit applies.
In conclusion of this 3-part article, the easiest part of this process is choosing a plan, and the hardest is getting thetriggering loss of coverage form to the carrier (the specific document and method vary by health plan). Don’t risk losing your effective date, use a competent broker who is licensed and certified to help you compare your options under all 3 alternatives above, and will help you submit a properly completed application to the health plan of your choice!
Certified Insurance Agents are a free service to consumers under the ACA and California law. However, the best certified agents will also help you compare your private insurance (PPO, HMO) options vs. your CoveredCA options. Find a local office of one of these broker-agents, in order to keep affordable health coverage while looking for a job.
While Federal or Cal-COBRA is the conservative choice (as discussed in Part I of this article), the negative aspects are “higher costs.” This is true because Federal COBRA administrators add 2% to the premium and Cal-COBRA administrators add 10%. If finding a low cost health plan is your priority, your 2nd action to keep affordable health coverage- CoveredCA should be requesting information from Covered California: [Small Employers should read about huge penalties beginning August 2015]
Covered California provides access to most private health plans e.g. Kaiser Permanante, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, HealthNet EPO and PPO plans and some regional providers as well (although availability varies among each of California’s counties- check here for assistance): extra caution is advised, because you must complete and submit your application prior to the desired 1st of the month coverage start date to avoid a gap in coverage, and the 60 Day Limit also applies.
Warning: failure to enroll within the special event 60-day period will not only incur a possible IRS tax penalty, but will consequently lock you out of the U.S. health insurance market until the following open enrollment period i.e. January 1st! (This is a lessor known problem with the Affordable Care Act).
Yet there are other reasons to skip CoveredCA and go directly to a private carrier. Read more about the 3rd of 3 Actions to keep affordable health coverage while looking for a job in Part III of this article.
Time is of the essence to find or keep affordable health coverage while looking for a new job, and you must take action fast. In this three-part series, here are 3 important steps to find or keep affordable health coverage under the Affordable Care Act:
If all else fails, use CAL-COBRA or Federal COBRA as a backstop, although it may not be the lowest price option: Warning, there is a maximum 60 Day Time Limit To Respond or you could lose your COBRA rights and eligibility;
Failure to enroll within the special 60-day period will not only incur a possible IRS tax penalty, but will consequently lock you out of the U.S. health insurance market until the following open enrollment period i.e. January 1st! (This is a lessor known problem with the Affordable Care Act). Read more about Special Events here or request assistance.
If you cannot afford the high cost of COBRA premiums, and really want the most affordable health coverage, then CoveredCA, the Covered California health exchange market may work better for you. Read about the pro’s and con’s of CoveredCA in Part II of this series, or proceed to Part III, “Private Insurance” options.
Time is of the essence during your qualifying event period (60 days). Yet some situations don’t qualify for special event consideration e.g. missing a COBRA premium payment. Either way, time is of the essence, consult with a Certified Agent as soon as possible. The ideal advisor is also an independent agent/broker:
Obamacare is Not Easy! ………………… Cake Pop?
An independent Certified Agent is knowledgable about private market health plans and Covered California plans.
An independent Certified Agent is also able to place you with temporary health insurance until the next regular Open Enrollment season begins.
“Special Enrollment” flyer from Covered California