As of November 1, California residents who cannot get a health plan through their employer are able to shop and enroll in a number of health plans through Covered California, California’s health benefit exchange. WHA plans for 2017 are among those available during Covered California’s open enrollment period. Whether you are currently uninsured or already enrolled in a Covered California plan, this open enrollment period is offered to all who are eligible for Covered California.
Coverage that you sign up for can become effective as of January 1, 2017. For coverage to be effective then, enrollment must be completed by December 15, 2016.
Open enrollment closes on Jan. 31, 2017. The open enrollment period will likely be the only time during the year you will be able to purchase or change plans, barring a major life change, such as the loss of a job or the birth of a child.
Covered California offers credits and subsidies to ensure coverage is affordable. Families and individuals who fall within certain income levels are eligible for premium tax credits used to lower the monthly payment of their health plan premiums. Some may even be eligible for assistance with out-of-pocket costs as well.
Health Plan Considerations
After November 1, you can make any changes you want (within the limits of what’s available). If you have new medical needs, additional family members, and other considerations, it is time for a tune up.
You may even need to make a complete change. Not all health plans are created equal. What worked for you in the past might no longer suit the needs of you and/or your family.
Here are some considerations when choosing a health plan:
- Do you like your current doctor? If so, will you lose him or her by changing plans?
- What core benefits are most important to you? Will the health plan help you reach your health goals?
- How much is the premium? If it’s low, is there a high deductible?
- What additional costs should you take into account? Weigh factors like premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Coverage for your family may be especially important.
- Is there a high-quality hospital nearby? What network of doctors and hospitals will you have access to? Do they coordinate care between locations?
- Is the health plan easy to use and is their customer service great? You want a health plan that’s easy to work with, professional, courteous, and able to answer all your questions.
- Are your prescription drugs covered and how are they covered?
Tip: Use an independent broker to advise you if this decision has the potential to keep you up at night. Ask him or her to match your needs, rather than tell you what you need. If you work with a good broker, he or she should also know the reputation of the health plans in your area and whether or not there have been significant customer service issues with any of them.
For those enrolled through Covered California, visit Covered CA to update your information. The premium assistance you may be eligible for in 2017 will vary based on changes in your household size, income, and the health insurance rates in your area. If you need help, click here for Covered CA enrollment assistance.
If you are enrolled through Covered California or in an Individual Advantage plan direct with WHA, you have received your WHA renewal notice – which also can be found at mywha.org. Learn about your coverage options online by logging into your MyWHA account to compare plans. If you don’t have a MyWHA account, sign up for one at mywha.org/signup.