Valley customers to see stark reduction in medical plan rates

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@TheSunGazette
TULARE COUNTY—When it comes to California health care, Valley counties are getting a significant break in 2020.
According to Covered California, health insurance coverage will be more affordable than ever for many people in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Mariposa and Tulare counties thanks to new financial help and competitive rates.
Covered California announced the rate decrease for the region will be -5.7% next, while the rest of the state will see a statewide average change of 0.8%. Point eight percent is the lowest change since Covered California’s launch, due to new state affordability initiatives designed to lower costs and encourage enrollment, stated a Covered California news release last month.
For those in the Valley, more importantly, consumers will pay less than they are paying now, by an average of -9.3%, if they shop around and switch to the lowest-cost plan in the same metal tier.
Also new for 2020, the state of California is making more financial help available to consumers through a new subsidy program that will further lower the cost of coverage.
“Even before considering the positive impact of new state subsidies, many Californians will be seeing little change or even decreases in their underlying premiums,” said Covered California executive director Peter V. Lee.
People who fall within the following income brackets could be eligible for the new financial assistance.
• People whose annual household income is less than $17,237 for an individual and $35,535 for a family of four. They will see their premiums for the benchmark plan lowered to $1 per member, per month.
• People whose annual household income is between $24,980 and $49,960 for an individual, or between $51,500 and $103,000 for a family of four. They could be eligible to receive an average of an additional $15 per household per month, in addition to any federal financial help they may get.
• Middle-income Californians whose annual household income is up to $74,940 for an individual or $154,500 for a family of four. These consumers previously did not qualify for federal financial help because they exceeded income requirements. They could be eligible to receive an average of $172 per household, per month, which will help them save an average of 23 percent off their current premiums. Many of these consumers, particularly those who live in high-cost regions, will see significant savings with annual reductions in their health care premiums in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
“California continues to lead the way in this new era of health care,” Lee said. “This first-in-the-nation program will make coverage more affordable for many middle-income Californians, such as small-business owners, entrepreneurs and contractors.”
The most recent data shows there are more than 71,000 Covered California consumers in the San Joaquin Valley. Depending on their ZIP code, people in these counties will once again be able to choose plans from Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Health Net and Kaiser Permanente.
All 11 carriers will continue offering products across the state in 2020, and Anthem Blue Cross will expand. That means 87 percent of Californians will be able to choose from three carriers or more, and 99.6 percent of consumers will have two or more choices.
Consumers can find out what they will pay for their 2020 coverage starting during the renewal period in October, when they can visit Covered California’s website at www.CoveredCA.com and begin using the Shop and Compare Tool for 2020.
Consumers who do not have health insurance will be able to begin signing up for 2020 coverage in the fall. Others with special qualifying life events, like losing their coverage or moving, can enroll year-round. Medi-Cal enrollment is also year-round.
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.