Perhaps you thought nothing was happening there during “the off season.”
Clearly that is not the case!
However, when we went looking at the top news about Covered California health insurance
in the last week, that story didn’t even make the top 20.
Do you know what story was top:
Individual Coverage Outpaces Small Business Insurance in California
In 2014, more Californians were enrolled in health coverage through the individual market than through small employers, according to a report by the California HealthCare Foundation, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. CHCF publishes California Healthline.
For the report, CHCF used enrollment data that had been publicly reported by the California Department of Insurance and California Department of Managed Health Care, as required under a 2012 law.
According to the report, enrollment in California’s small business market in 2014 dropped by 11% to 2.1 million enrollees. Meanwhile, enrollment in the individual market increased by 47% to 2.18 million during the same period.
While there is no historical data for comparison, the numbers appear to mark the first time that the state’s individual market has outpaced small business enrollment, according to the Business Journal.
The sharp uptick in the individual market largely was driven by Covered California and the availability of subsidies to help pay for premiums for plans purchased through the exchange.
The data show that the 47% increase in the individual market represented about 700,000 additional enrollees last year — about half of whom purchased coverage through the state exchange, while the other half purchased coverage directly from insurers.
Meanwhile, the 11% decrease in small business enrollment represented a drop of more than 257,000 enrollees (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/21).
DMHC Has Most Enrollment in Commercial Sectors
The CHCF report also found that DMHC now has the most enrollment in all three commercial insurance sectors, surpassing DOI in terms of regulating California’s individual health insurance market, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. According to the Business Journal, California is the only state to split insurance between two regulators.
According to the report, DMHC now regulates:
- 91% of the large group market;
- 82% of the individual market; and
- 77% of the small group market.
The numbers do not include Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.
Meanwhile, DOI outpaces DMHC in regulating employer-sponsored coverage, with 5.35 million and 1 million enrollees, respectively (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/22).
And the 2nd most popular story about Covered California health insurance (popularity noted by the number of “Likes” on the top 5 social media channels):
Covered California Approves Specialty Rx Price Caps for 2016
Last week, Covered California’s board of directors unanimously voted to impose a cap on out-of-pocket costs for specialty prescription drugs for consumers who purchase 2016 health plans through the exchange, KQED/NPR’s “Shots” reports (Dembosky, “Shots,” KQED/NPR, 5/22).
According to a recent report from the California HealthCare Foundation, Covered California health plans in 2014 varied significantly in their coverage of prescription drugs, particularly among those for chronic conditions. Such variations affected consumers’ out-of-pocket costs (CHCF report, May 2015). CHCF publishes California Healthline.
In April, Covered California recommended that consumers pay no more than $500 per prescription monthly for specialty drugs in 2016.
However, the exchange’s board of directors delayed a vote on the price cap, noting that it would seek more feedback after advocates had urged the exchange to adopt a lower cap of $200 per month (California Healthline, 4/17).
Details of Price Cap
Under the new price cap, Californians with silver and platinum plans will pay no more than $150 to $250 per month for specialty drugs, while out-of-pocket specialty drug costs for consumers with bronze plans will be capped at $500 per month.
The exchange’s policy applies only to consumers who purchase health plans through the individual insurance market and not to those with employer-based coverage (“Shots,” KQED/NPR, 5/22).
According to The Hill, California is the first state to impose such a cap on out-of-pocket specialty drug costs (Sullivan, The Hill, 5/22).
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said, “These new policies strike a balance between ensuring Covered California consumers can afford the medication they need to treat chronic and life-threatening conditions while keeping premiums affordable for all.”
Consumer groups largely supported the exchange’s decision but noted that more could be done to keep costs down.
Liz Helms, CEO of California Chronic Care Coalition, said, “As it stands now, the bronze plan will not meet the needs of Californians with chronic conditions.”
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) also criticized Covered California’s price cap for bronze plans.
Jones, who had called for a $300 monthly price cap for Bronze plans, said that the exchange’s new policy “makes prescription drug coverage unaffordable to Californians who buy bronze plans, one of the most popular health insurance levels of coverage” (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 5/22).
Meanwhile, Betsy Imholz, special projects director at Consumers Union, said the exchange’s new price cap is “better than most, but not the absolute top of the heap” (“Shots,” KQED/NPR, 5/22).
BTW, for those that don’t know, we are a Certified Insurance Agent with Covered California so please do not hesitate to call us if we can be of any assistance with your health insurance coverage: 877.789.5831