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Ask Emily: Acute confusion reigns as exchange enrollment nears

By in Press Enterprise on October 28, 2017

By California Healthline

By Emily Bazar, California Healthline

Emily Bazar’s monthly column focuses on navigating health care coverage in California.Send questions for Emily to AskEmily@kff.org

If the comments on Covered California’s Facebook page are any indication, you’re all suffering from acute health insurance confusion:

“I wanted to sign up again this year. … I’m hesitant now because of what Trump has done. Should I still consider?”

“Does the removal of subsidies mean we might lose our premium tax credits during the year?”

“So you’re telling me that [Trump’s] executive order didn’t do anything? I am so confused.”

Emily Bazar

I don’t blame you. Choosing a health plan will be doubly hard this year given President Donald Trump’s recent move to cut off federal payments for a key consumer subsidy, his administration’s decision to shorten exchange open-enrollment periods in most states to 45 days, Congress’ failed attempts to repeal Obamacare and the departure of some insurers from certain markets.

Let me ease your mind straightaway on three critical points:

  • In California, open enrollment for individuals and families who buy their 2018 plans through Covered California and in the open market lasts three months, from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31.
  • You won’t lose the tax credits that help you — and the vast majority of Covered California enrollees — afford your premiums, assuming you still qualify.
  • The same goes for the cost-sharing subsidies that reduce out-of-pocket costs for some Covered California members, despite Trump’s decision to stop funding them. But shopping will be challenging. Anthem Blue Cross is pulling out of a large swath of California’s individual market, on and off the exchange, forcing hundreds of thousands of consumers to find new plans. And in addition to regular, annual rate hikes — averaging 12.3 percent statewide — silver-level plans will bear an additional 12.4 percent average surcharge to make up for the loss of […]    
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