Most Who Enrolled Through Covered California Last Year Stayed With Health Carriers

Of the more than 1 million people who signed up for health care plans through Covered California last year, 92 percent were eligible for enrollment and most of them stayed with their insurance carrier, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday.

Officials with Covered California, the state’s health care plan exchange, said the figures show that 944,000 who signed up by Dec. 1, 2014, were eligible for renewal. Of those, about a third chose to explore their options for coverage while most took no action, meaning they renewed with their current plan.

In the end, 54,000 chose a different carrier than they had in 2014.

“In this first renewal period, while we saw some movement from plan to plan, Covered California’s consumers mostly decided to stay where they were, with many consumers continuing in their same plans — even if they shopped among other options,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee.

The most popular plans included Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente. Those plans showed some losses, but both HealthNet and L.A. Care Health Plan each lost almost 10 percent of those who first signed up with them in 2014.

Lee said of the 1.12 million who enrolled in plans by December of last year, 85,000 were eligible for Medi-Cal when they sought to renew. About 80,000 people are in limbo in the system, because they may have moved to another region where health plans or carriers are different or unavailable, Lee said.

“With 90 percent of enrollees sticking with their existing health plan, it is clear that there is stability in the market and people are pleased with their coverage,” said California Association of Health Plans President and CEO Charles Bacchi in a statement.

“The individual market historically experiences a higher rate of turnover than employer and other types of coverage,” he said. “People may get a job with employer coverage, move or become eligible for Medi-Cal.”

Earlier this week, Lee said $3.2 billion in federal tax credits were paid out to help subsidize the health coverage of those signed on with Covered California. That means 800,000 California households received federal subsidies, with an estimated average amount received of about $5,200 per household per year.

Lee said those who are enrolling for the first time have until Feb. 15. As of Monday, 273,111 consumers had picked a plan during open enrollment. Lee said Covered California’s goal is to enroll 500,000 by the deadline.

Under the Affordable Care Act, uninsured Americans must enroll in a health plan or face hefty penalties at tax time.

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