January 22, 2014
Covered California, the state’s health benefit exchange, has released new enrollment numbers, which reflect how successful the exchange was during its October through December pre-enrollment period.
As of December 31, 500,108 Californians had officially purchased insurance covered through a plan offered on Covered California’s online marketplace. Of that figure, roughly 85 percent are eligible for some level of government subsidy.
Additionally, when preliminary numbers from the first two weeks of January are added, the total rises to slightly more than 625,000, according to exchange officials.
“We are pleased that Californians — many for the first time — are getting quality, affordable health insurance to protect themselves and their families,” said Peter Lee, the exchange’s executive director.
Enrollees in Covered California health insurance plans who paid their first month’s premium received health care retroactive to Jan. 1, but the enrollment period continues through March 31.
In addition to those purchasing coverage through exchange, the state’s Department of Health Care Services also enrolled more than 1.2 million Californians in the state’s expanded Medi-Cal program. Of these enrollees, roughly 630,000 are transitioning directly from an existing Low Income Health Program, while an additional 584,000 are those that were deemed “likely eligible” for Medi-Cal during the Covered California enrollment process.
While exchange officials have touted these figures as a success for the state’s new insurance marketplace, many observers note that enrollment in key demographic groups continue to lag.
Of the roughly 400,000 consumers who responded to questions regarding ethnicity, less than 20 percent identified as Latino. Meanwhile, Latinos make up roughly 46 percent of the population believed to be eligible for subsidized coverage, as well as more than half of the state’s 7 million uninsured residents.
Additionally, nearly half of all those purchasing coverage on the exchange fall in the 45-64 age group, while that group accounts for only 25 percent of the state’s overall population.
California physicians with questions regarding participation in Covered California are encouraged to visit the California Medical Association’s exchange resource center, which includes a guide to navigating the first months of the exchange. The resource center can be found at https://www.cmadocs.org/federal-health-reform.