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California Health Insurance Exchange 101

With the inception of health care reform, we have seen numerous changes in health care, such as full coverage of preventive care services and work has already begun to create state-based “exchange” around the country. But, how can you use one of these exchanges? How can it help consumers looking for affordable health care coverage in California?

An exchange is a marketplace where individuals and small business firms can shop and compare different California health plans online. Plans will be standardized; every plan sold by insurance companies will offer the same benefits to make it easier for consumers to shop for health coverage. Consumers will simply focus on the cost and quality of the health plan when doing comparison shopping. It’s designed to make it easier than the complicated fine print we now should read, but can’t always understand.

Why Would A California Health Insurance Exchange Be Controversial?

Like almost everything else, state-based exchanges are enmeshed in politics. In California and other states, lawmakers have agreed to adopt the legislation in setting up exchanges, but many Republican governors are fighting the exchanges. Some governors even refuse to implement any part of the health care reform, such as in Florida.

California, Florida and Texas contribute 40 percent of the 4.3 million uninsured children in the country and lack of coverage hurts the adults in these states, as well. The insurance exchange can give the public a better chance to get affordable health plans. However, some insurance experts predict that healthy individuals will opt out from the exchanges if they are not well planned. That would leave insurance companies insuring sicker people, which typically drives up CA plan premiums.

When Will The California Health Insurance Exchange Be Ready?

The new health insurance marketplace is required to be fully functional on January 1, 2014. By that date, all states are expected to have set up their state-based exchange. If they fail to do so, the federal government will run an exchange for that state.

The CA exchange will initially be open only for individuals buying their own health coverage and for small businesses looking for plans to cover employees. Most U.S. citizens will still get health coverage through their jobs, but there are millions of people who don’t have that choice. For better or worse, immigrants without documents will be barred from buying health insurance through the exchanges. Since many illegal immigrants work in food production in the U.S., keeping them healthy sounds like it would be extremely important.

Congressional members and staff will be required to buy health plans for California through the exchange, but other federal employees can get health care coverage outside the exchange. Among the public, 11.5 million U.S. citizens are expected to use the exchanges in 2014, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that will double in 2018.

How Much Will California Health Insurance Plans Cost?

Since there are four different types of plan offered, premiums will vary depending on the level of benefits and your location. There will be a choice of bronze, silver, gold and platinum plans, and all plans will incorporate certain safeguards. For example, insurance companies will not allowed to charge premiums based on your gender or your health status. However, insurers may increase rates based on age. Seniors could be charged triple the rate for young adults.

The Obama administration has said there will be a set of “essential benefits” in every health plan sold through the exchange. The benefits are still being worked out, but will definitely include coverage for services such as emergency care, prescription drugs, hospital care, lab services, maternity care and pediatric care.

How to Find Affordable California Health Insurance

Are you a California resident who is looking purchase your own health insurance plan? If you are there is a good chance that you are either self-employed or your current employer doesn’t offer health insurance coverage. Either way, you will need to purchase your own. If you are reality familiar with California health insurance, you likely know that isn’t dirt cheap. You will have to pay a fairly decent price to receive an adequate amount of insurance coverage; however, you shouldn’t have to go broke when doing so. With a little bit of research, you should be able to find affordable California health insurance.

When it comes to finding affordable California health insurance, you will soon see that you have a number of different options. The first step in finding affordable California health insurance is to familiarize yourself with health insurance companies that provide coverage to those residing in the state of California, like you. You are advised to examine well-known and reputable insurance providers, like Blue Cross Blue Shield and so forth. For a large selection of health insurance companies, namely ones that you may be relatively unfamiliar with, it is advised that you perform a standard internet search.

Once you have found a health insurance company, you can start to examine all of their California health insurance plans. Even if you only find one health insurance company, you will have access to a number of different California health insurance policies, as many companies offer multiple plans or policies. It is advised that you examine multiple California insurance companies, to get a wide range of plans or policies to choose from. However, it is more than acceptable for you to just examine one reputable insurance provider and all of their California health insurance plans.

Speaking of examining multiple California health insurance polices, if you are looking for affordable California health insurance, you will want to request multiple health insurance quotes. Getting a number of quotes and comparing their estimates will give you a good idea of which plans could give you affordable California health insurance. If you are truly looking for affordable California health insurance, you will want to request as many insurance quotes as you can. Having a large number of quotes to compare will up your chances of finding truly affordable California health insurance.

Although it is important to find affordable California health insurance, you will also want to make sure that you choose a quality health insurance plan. That is why you will also want to examine the contents of each coverage plan, in addition to the prices that they are offered at. Combining great prices with quality insurance coverage is the perfect way to get reliable, yet affordable California health insurance.

California Health Insurance Supports People in Good and Bad Times

With hundreds of California Health Insurance Plans available, providers are working hard to bring additional benefits to their members and the larger community.

Health Insurance for California Provider Donates to Red Cross

One of largest providers of insurance in California — Anthem Blue Cross of California — stepped up to help during the southern California wildfires. When residents were forced to flee from their homes, some left behind necessary and valuable prescription medications. Anthem Blue Cross of California provided a one-time 30-day supply override so their members would not have to wait for a 30-day cycle to end before they could refill prescription medications lost during the fires.

Blue Cross of California also extended the range of in-network healthcare providers to help those who were forced to relocate. Anthem said the in-network coverage benefits would be extended to cover out-of-network providers when victims of the wildfires relocated to areas lacking in-network providers.

Anthem also extended assistance to the community at large. Blue Cross of California donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross to help bring relief to victims of the southern California fires.

California Health Insurance Providers Step Up for H1N1 Crisis

Anthem Blue Cross of California is one of many health insurance providers that offer members free H1N1 vaccinations. Many providers are waiving coinsurance, co-pays, and deductible fees to enable more people to receive H1N1 vaccinations. Anthem is also offering low-cost flu-related treatment coverage, including Relenza and Tamiflu. Those enrolled in Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or other publicly-funded health care programs can also receive the H1N1 vaccine at no cost.

Blue Cross of California Makes It Easier to Stay Well in Good Times, Too

Anthem Blue Cross of California continues to offer assistance in normal times with convenient prescription medication mail service for its members. Anthem’s NextRX program is available to members who take prescription medications on a regular basis. That includes medications that are used to treat allergies, depression, diabetes, and heart disease, along with oral contraceptives. Members who participate in NextRX may also receive confidential counseling with the Anthem pharmacist, coupons, free shipping, prescription refill reminders, and 24/7 telephone and Web site access.

New Health Insurance Plans for California

Anthem provides a wide range of California Health Insurance Plans, including dental, employer health, and family and individual health plans. It also offers a plan specifically for healthy young people (California TONIK).

Blue Cross of California SmartSense plans offer low costs while still covering essentials, such as doctor office visits and prescription medications. Anthem offers both HMOs and PPOs. PPO Share Plans allow immediate benefits for annual physical exams, doctor office visits, and preventive care. Blue Cross of California also has PPO plans that cover 100 percent of most services after a deductible, and are compatible with Health Savings Accounts.

On the first day of 2010, Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health launched CoreGuard, which is an individual PPO plan. On February 1st, Anthem offered ClearProtection, a second new individual PPO plan. Both plans are designed to address healthcare reform plans proposed by the Senate, and to provide deductible options and prescription drug coverage. Clear Protection also guarantees no rate increases for two years.

In addition, Blue Cross of California provides access to alternative health care practitioners, emergency care worldwide, online services, and specialty programs.

California Health Plans Offer Many Choices

California Health Insurance providers (including Aetna, Assurant, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, HealthNet, Nationwide, and Pacificare) have hundreds of plans from which to choose. To find the best plan for your needs, evaluate your options carefully. Health Insurance Quotes for California are available online. Free consultation services are also available online so you can ask experts who have worked with these plans for years what terms mean, and get expert advice on how different plans can meet your needs.

How Does California Health Insurance Stack Up To The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

Perhaps the intent behind the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to insure one of the groups most likely to be deprived of health care, but the result is somewhat unexpected.

As a group, youth in transition from dependent children to becoming independent working young adults have a difficult time making financial ends meet. One of the outcomes is that almost a third of adults between the ages of 19 and 25 (that’s over a million people) lack health insurance.

A national group organized to work on behalf of such young adults, known as the Young Invincibles, claims that as many as three-fourths of young working adults are not eligible for group health insurance on the job. Still, parents were not allowed to cover children on their own health plans before the ACA became law.

Since first jobs are typically entry-level positions with salaries on the low end, health insurance had to take a back seat to college tuition, books, transportation, etc. The problem was directly addressed in the ACA, though. The new law allowed children to be covered under parents’ health plans until children became 26.

Health Insurance In California Runs Into A Glitch In The Tax Laws

In California, insurance plans can include children under the age of 26 on parents’ policies now, but state laws may be causing unintended consequences. As 2011 dawned, there was a surge among parents to enroll their children who had no other form of health plan. The excitement has been dwindling as more parents see an increase in taxable income when group coverage from employers is expanded to add youth until they turn 26.

In contrast, federal law exempts such benefits from taxable income, but the tax law in California, perhaps like in many other states, does not. California legislation AB 36 would change the state code to mirror the federal tax rules, but will it ever become law?

Similar legislation was defeated just a year ago and California’s budgetary woes aren’t looking any better in 2011. In this time of rampant budgetary cuts, how likely is it that a change in the tax code that could strip $92 million from the budget will become law anytime soon?

California Insurance Plans Offer Another Tactic To Cover Young Adults

Until group coverage irons this out, parents may have a better option. In California, insurance offers coverage specifically tailored for young and healthy adults under age 30. It’s known as the Tonik plan. Underwriting, which determines whether to insure individuals based on the state of their health, only accepts people in good health, so this option is not for people with pre-existing conditions.

Premiums can be as low as $79 for healthy, young adults depending on where they live and Tonik has three deductible options that can be used to keep premiums low. Like all health insurance for California after the passage of health care reform, these plans exempt recommended preventive services from the deductible as well as from co-insurance or co-payment charges.

How Does California Health Insurance Handle Pre-existing Conditions In Youth?

Health care reform still does not block insurance companies from denying coverage to children over age 18 if they have a pre-existing condition. What if your child doesn’t pass medical underwriting requirements?

If health care reform is allowed to continue, insurers will no longer be allowed to deny health insurance in California to adults over the age of 18 based on pre-existing conditions in 2014.

With some uncertainty still circulating around health care reform and how California enacts it, parents need to look at all of their options. That includes new coverage ideas like Tonik in the individual California insurance market.