Covered California Will Offer Auto-Renewals for 2015

If most consumers who bought health insurance through Covered California this year sit back and do nothing, they’ll be automatically enrolled in the same plan next year.

However, program officials and insurance brokers urge people to go to and use the “Shop and Compare” tool to look at options to make sure their current plan is still the best fit.

The state health benefit exchange will release more details on the re-enrollment process in coming weeks, spokesman James Scullary said. Questions include whether subsidies that applied in 2014 automatically carry over without renewed proof of income.

There are some exceptions to automatic renewal. People who picked Contra Costa Health Services have to select something else because the plan is not participating in the program next year. All the same plans as last year will be available in the Sacramento region.

“Top brokers will follow a standard of practice to always walk clients through every viable alternative before helping them make a choice for 2015,” said Carolyn Lewis, a local broker and spokeswoman for the Sacramento Association of Health Underwriters. Individuals and small groups will want to review subsidies and tax advantages to determine the best plan going forward, she added — even though “in many cases, the current plan will be the right choice for next year.”

The next open enrollment for Covered California starts Nov. 15 and extends through Feb. 15. Small business owners renew whenever their plan expires.

One problem brokers foresee: the tax documents everybody gets.

“We believe there are probably a lot of improperly enrolled Californians,” Lewis said. One group is likely to be those who are offered affordable coverage at work but don’t realize that rules out eligibility for a subsidy. Another group relates to the so-called “family glitch”: individuals offered affordable coverage at work who don’t understand this rules out subsidy eligibility for their spouse and children.

The Obama administration has announced plans for auto-enrollment in the federal exchange. Consumers will receive notices shortly before open enrollment starts that explain auto-enrollment but encourage them to shop for plans and check to see if they qualify for additional financial assistance. Consumers in the federal exchange also will receive notices from their insurance company about their 2015 premium and the amount they may save on their monthly bills with a premium tax credit.

Federal policies give state-based exchanges the flexibility to proposed different approaches.

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