A sign for a health care enrollment fair

Monday is the open enrollment deadline for Covered California, the state’s new health insurance exchange. More than 1 million Californians have already signed up for coverage, the most of any state in the nation. But the enrollment numbers for certain groups, such as Latinos and African-Americans, have been lagging. We get an update on Covered California and take your questions on the health care law.

Lisa Aliferis, editor of KQED's State of Health blog
Emily Bazar, senior writer at the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting at the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Thanks to the ACA and Covered California our daughter in law who had been paying close to $800 per month for herself, is now paying $300 and she keeps her Kaiser doctors with nothing changing. Our son already had good coverage for himself.

    Would like to see dental care covered by more providers since dental health plays a HUGE role in over all body health.

    • obamacare

      My Kaiser premium increased 116.5% with ACA from a very affordable $305 to $635.04 an increase of $325.04. I have the same policy with the addition of maternity benefits that at age 60 I do not really need. The effect of ACA is that my premium is now not affordable.

  • SJ

    My mother applied using Covered California and was told that she is eligible for Medical. However, all attempts to contact the Medical office since have been unsuccessful and we are now in a limbo – don’t know if she is covered or not. This is very frustrating!

    What does one do in such a situation?

    • SJ

      I’ll try bugging the county office. Thanks for taking the question.

  • Ginny Bahr

    I work with re-entering inmates who live in a halfway house. They are being released from custody in April. Since inmates are not eligible, can they enroll before the deadline and just have it start on their release date?

    • Some prisons and jails are enrolling inmates in advance of release. But certainly upon release, they can sign up.

  • M Q

    The news media has talked a lot about the number of people who have signed up via the state or federal exchanges, but has made no mention of the people that bypassed the exchange and went directly to the insurance companies, which they could not before Obamacare because of pre-existing conditions.

    Is anyone accumulating statistics on that?

  • Adam titone

    Can an individual be insure by more than one insurer? If so does the deadline and hence the penalty apply? Can the individual sign up for insurance after the deadline?

  • disqus_63X8zNMKNl

    I just heard one of the guests say that one of the things people against Obamacare will bring up is that insurance companies will get subsidies far in excess of the premiums citizens will pay. That seems backwards. I am entirely in favor of a national health care plan, like most of the industrialized world has. But in my mind, the large subsidies insurance companies will receive is not the downside of Obamacare but reflects the fact that insurance companies themselves, and the Congressmen they contribute to, are strenuously against insurance companies getting any less money than they currently do.

  • obamacare

    is covered california subsidy a loan or a gift?

  • DM

    My Kaiser premium increased 116.5% with ACA from a very affordable $305 to $635.04 an increase of $325.04. I have the same policy with the addition of maternity benefits that at age 60 I do not really need. The effect of ACA is that my premium is now not affordable.

  • NeilH

    Over the last 5yrs, my wife have been on a HIPA plan, and when I’ve gone to healthcare providers I’ve tried asking upfront what the costs would be for the service – and the amazing thing is the receptionist has said back to me, “we don’t know, and it depends on your insurance”. It appears the “cash for service” often appears 50% higher so that (it seems to me) that it can be negotiated with the insurance providers. So my take away has always been that having insurance makes the healthcare more affordable, even if it is really the lowest cost rung of insurance. Any comments?
    (The new coveredca – which is frustrating as all the insurances plans – is wonderful in its scope)

  • Vince Alcouloumre

    I signed up thru Covered CA with Anthem Blue Cross about a week ago, but have yet to receive any confirmation from Anthem? How long does it typically take to hear from the insurance companies ?

  • This is Cliff from San Mateo. I have a question about a notice I received a week ago from Medi-cal saying that all coverage received after one turns will be recuperated by the state by placing a lien on one’s estate. I just got this insurance in Feb through CoveredCal and this notice came as a complete surprise. Is this legal?!

  • Jane smith

    Bad suggestion that franchise tax board and feds wont fine. Of course they will be. That is the inforcement part. It is costly to blow off inrollment.

  • Kay

    I work as an independent contractor. I didn’t make much money last year and have a very nice subsidy for health insurance thanks to Covered California. (I was paying upwards of $850 a month for health insurance.) If things continue to go well, I will be making substantially more and will most likely no longer qualify for the subsidy. Will there be a penalty when I pass the subsidy threshold or can I simply do a true up and pay the difference to Covered California?

    • You can adjust your income up or down on your CoveredCA account at any time. Just log in and make the change (although I would wait until after March 31 — they are pretty busy right now).

      • Kay

        That’s great to know. Thanks for the info.

  • Zbigniew Rozbicki

    Heard a blirb recently that suggested having/paying on an outstanding health debt will exempt a person from having to pay the penalty? Is there a certain amount of outstanding health debt that qualifies one to be exempt from the penalty for not being covered?

  • John, Oakland

    Please, please have the panelists address the important issue of the “family glitch”. This is affecting thousands of potential enrollees in California and nationally. It is not well a understood issue but it is a very serious one.
    Our family of three, myself an employee, my wife self employed, are within the federal limit of household annual adjusted gross income of around $69k in 2013. But, we’ve been informed that we’re not eligible for ANY assistance whatsoever from Covered California.

    Why? because my employer offers health coverage for me and we pay additional premiums for my wife+ daughter’s coverage, but, only MY employee share of the premium is considered in the calculation of “affordability” an the “not to exceed” threshold of 9.5% limit of household income. In other words even though my wife has to pay considerably more than me cover to cover herself and my daughter under the employer- sponsored plan, we/she will not get any subsidy because only my own – smaller – premium is considered.
    We are stuck with unaffordable current health insurance that we are locked into and I know this is NOT within the original spirit of the Affordable Care Act. John, Oakland CA.

    • This is a known problem and we have reported on it. It is indeed a significant glitch in the law. You may want to consider talking to a tax professional to see if you can increase your deductions — legally — so that your adjusted gross income would fall into subsidy eligible range. Good luck to you.

  • Darby Sager

    All the comments “I’m not a tax person” etc points to –> why don’t you invite a tax expert who has made it their mission to know about covered California/ ACA. I’d love to listen to all the different situations.

  • Darby Sager

    Why are there 17 different sections in CA for ACA? Why only 2 insurance plans in each area?

    • California is divided into regions. 11 insurance companies offer plans in California, but not all 11 operate in each region. For example, the Chinese Community Health Plan is offered in San Francisco and San Mateo, but not in most other regions. Each region has between 2 and 5 companies offering plans.

  • Marion

    Is it true that if you don’t have a minimum income, you must get on Medi-cal and are not eligible for Covered CA? The ads on tv say the less you make, the more you’re subsidized. I’m confused on this point.

    • If you are an individual earning less than about $15,800 a year, then you are likely eligible for Medi-Cal. If you earn between 15,800 – 46,000, then you are likely eligible for subsidies on Covered California.

      • Marion

        That’s my question: since I make less than $15,800/yr. right now, I could be ineligible for Covered CA… though ads don’t mention this, only stating the less you make the more you’ll get from Covered CA.

  • Guest

    Isn’t this the 12th time Forum has covered this topic? I’d much rather hear about anything else already. It’s like they’re trying to punish Dave Iverson…

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