Tenet Health and Covered California to host virtual town hall about low, no-cost insurance options for the unemployed
–Covered California will be presenting a ‘Virtual Town Hall’ meeting on Tuesday, May 19 at 4 p.m. to help those who may have lost their health insurance as a result of job loss due to the COVID-19 stay at home orders.
To register, call (844) 677-5929 or TenetHealthCentralCoast.com/events and a link to the presentation will be sent following registration.
Covered California announced on Tuesday that 58,400 people had enrolled in health care coverage since the exchange announced a special- enrollment period in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pace of sign-ups has been nearly three times the level that Covered California saw during the same period in 2019.
“We want to remind consumers that they can get access to the care they need during this crisis, either through Covered California or Medi-Cal,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “We know there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who have either lost their health insurance or were uninsured when this crisis began, and we want them to know there is a path to coverage ready for them.”
The enrollment data covers the three-week period from March 20, when Covered California opened the health insurance exchange to any eligible uninsured individuals who need health care coverage amid the COVID-19 emergency, through April 10. Anyone who meets Covered California’s eligibility requirements, which are similar to those in place during the annual open-enrollment period, can sign up for coverage through June 30.
In addition, Covered California has seen tremendous consumer interest online, with more than 885,000 new users visiting CoveredCA.com, which is twice the number of visits seen during the same time period last year. During the same period, of those coming to CoveredCA.com, there were also more than 129,000 unique page views to the Medi-Cal page.
“While Covered California is enrolling tens of thousands of people, we know that is only a small part of California’s response and that many, many more people will get the health care they need through Medi-Cal,” Lee said.
Consumers can enroll through CoveredCA.com and find out whether they are eligible for financial help through Covered California or if they are eligible for no-cost or low-cost coverage through Medi-Cal. People who sign up through Covered California will have their coverage begin on the first day of the following month. Those eligible for Medi-Cal can have coverage that is effective retroactively to the first day of the month from when they submitted their application.
Covered California is also working with California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) to alert the uninsured that they can get health care coverage through the exchange or Medi-Cal. Covered California produced the following insert, which is being included in unemployment benefits that are being sent to consumers. During each of the next three months, Covered California plans to deliver 3.5 million inserts to EDD for distribution.
Existing Covered California consumers may be able to lower the cost of their coverage if they have experienced a loss of income due to the economic impacts of the COVID- 19 pandemic. The price of consumers’ monthly premiums is based in part on their income, and if that income goes down, they may be eligible for additional financial help from the federal government, state, or both.
Consumers can report an income change by logging in to their account at CoveredCA.com. Consumers who are having trouble accessing their account can reset their password online.
During this public health emergency, it is important to note that all health plans offered through Covered California and by Medi-Cal provide telehealth options for enrollees, giving individuals the ability to connect with a health care professional by phone or video without having to personally visit a doctor’s office or hospital.
All medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19 are free of charge. This includes telehealth or doctor’s office visits as well as network emergency room or urgent care visits when necessary for the purpose of screening and testing for COVID-19. In addition, Medi-Cal covers costs associated with COVID-19 testing, evaluation and treatment services in both its managed care plans and with fee for service providers. Covered California health plans will help cover costs that arise from any required
treatment or hospitalization.
In addition, most Covered California plans offer “first-dollar” coverage, meaning outpatient services are not subject to a deductible. “A core part of our mission is improving access to high-quality health care, and that has never been more important than it is right now in California,” Lee said.
Californians who sign up for coverage may be able to benefit from a new state subsidy program that expanded the amount of financial help available to many people. The subsidies are already benefiting about 625,000 Covered California consumers. Roughly 576,000 lower-income consumers, who earn between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), are receiving an average of $608 per month, per household in federal tax credits and new state subsidies (which averages $23 per household). The financial assistance lowers the average household monthly premium from $881 per month to $272, a decrease of 70 percent.
In addition, nearly 32,000 middle-income consumers have already qualified for new state subsidies, with average state subsidy to eligible households at $504 per month, lowering their monthly premium by nearly half.
Many of those eligible for the new middle-income state subsidies are an estimated 280,000 Californians who are likely eligible for new state or existing federal subsidies but kept their “off-exchange” coverage. They are also eligible to switch to Covered California and benefit from the financial help. During this special-enrollment period, Covered California, its health insurance companies and Certified Insurance Agents will be reaching out to these Californians to let them know how they can save money on their premiums – which will help them keep their coverage in challenging financial times.
Covered California had established a special enrollment period for those who were newly becoming aware of state subsidies or the new California mandate penalty, and sign-ups during the special enrollment period prior to March 20 were up 80 percent over the same period in 2019.
Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can also:
• 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.
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