Medical Trade Groups Agree to Help Boost Covered California Enrollment

Covered California has enlisted 14 trade groups – including the California Medical Association and California Hospital Association – to urge health providers to promote health insurance during open enrollment for the state health benefit exchange.

This means more than 100,000 providers and 400 hospitals will receive materials to get the word out to patients that open enrollment is underway and it’s time to sign up for coverage in 2015. The window opened Nov. 15 and ends Feb. 15, 2015. Those who enroll by Dec. 15 will be covered starting Jan. 1.

“This is a truly historic initiative,” Covered California executive director Peter Lee said at a Southern California news conference Tuesday. “More than a dozen leading associations have committed to reaching out to all their members with the message that the Affordable Care Act is not just about coverage, but getting the care they need.”

Participating doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and medical groups are urged to promote enrollment and to display “I’m In” placards in their offices so prospective patients and family members will know they accept insurance plans offered through Covered California.

An estimated 3.2 million Californians without insurance remain eligible for coverage through the exchange. Covered California enrolled about 1.2 million in the individual exchange this year. The program hopes to add 500,000 more in 2015. Another 2.2 million Californians signed up for Medi-Cal this year. Combined, these figures cut the number of uninsured people in California in half.

Backing by major provider groups comes after complaints that some patients who signed up for coverage this year were unable to find a doctor to care for them. Last month, state regulators slammed Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California for failure to provide accurate doctor lists to patients who signed up with Covered California.

Both plans disputed the numbers and said they are fixing the problem.

“There are always some doctors with full panels,” Lee said at the news conference. “But more than 90 percent of contracted physicians have open panels are accepting new patients.”

The idea behind the placards is to reassure patients they’ll be able to get the care they need.

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