HEALTHCARE.GOV RECEIVES CYBER ATTACK

November 13, 2013 by admin No Comments
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Obamacare Site Subject To Unsuccessful Cyber Attack: Official

WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) – The Obama administration’s troubled HealthCare.gov site has been subject to an unsuccessful cyber attack aimed at overwhelming and taking down the site, a U.S. cybersecurity official said on Wednesday.

“We are aware of one open source action attempting a denial of service attack that has been unsuccessful,” Roberta Stempfley, acting assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, told lawmakers.

Testifying at the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, Stempfley also said the DHS was aware of “about 16″ reports from the Department of Health and Human Services on investigations related to the site’s security.

It was unclear from the testimony whether the reports were related to actual cyber attacks, threats of attacks or other operational problems.

Stempfley said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the lead health agency managing the rollout of the site, had not sent a specific request for help, so federal cyber officials had not been providing any technical assistance. (Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

COST BREAKDOWN OF COVERED CALIFORNIA PLANS

November 13, 2013 by admin No Comments
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When using the cost estimator to find plans that are available to you through Covered California, be sure to look at every detail of the plan. Don’t just look at the low monthly premium and think that is the best plan to go with. It is important to look at every detail of the plan, especially the benefits that plan offers, the network of doctors that the plan has, and one major factor that some people may overlook is the cost breakdown of the plan.

The cost breakdown of a plan lets you view exactly how much it costs for each person to be covered on the plan. What we have been seeing is that most of the time if there are dependents involved (children 18 and under) they are being signed up for Medi-Cal. If you don’t want your child signed up for Medi-Cal, there are ways to get them on the plan you are signing up for.

The first way is to fill out two applications for Covered California. On both applications you will fill out everyone’s information and answer all questions they ask you.

On the first application, when it asks if you would like premium assistance you select YES. Then when you go to list who you want coverage for and the plan that you want, you only put the people 19 and older. This will allow those people to get premium assistance.

On the second application, when it asks if you would like premium assistance you select NO. Then when you go to list who you want coverage for and the plan that you want you only list the people 18 and under. This will put them on the plan that the adults are on and keep them off Medi-Cal.

Now, because you must select NO for premium assistance for the children 18 and under, this means they will not get premium assistance and you will have to pay the child’s full premium, which could range anywhere from $116-135.

A second way of keeping your kids off Medi-Cal would be to send in just one application, wait for approval from the carrier, and then contact that carrier and let them know you would like to add your children, who are 18 and under, onto your plan. The carrier should then be able to tell you what it will cost to add each child onto the plan.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know for certain how much you will have to pay for your children who are 18 and under because Covered California’s cost estimator is not equipped to calculate for this. It will not be until you send the applications in and you get approval that you will find out how much each child costs.

Just remember to look at every detail of the plan you are choosing before signing up for it. You don’t want to be stuck with something that really isn’t going to help you.

2012-2013 ANNUAL REPORT IS RELEASED BY COVERED CALIFORNIA

November 13, 2013 by admin No Comments
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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2013

Covered California Releases Its 2012-2013 Annual Report
Report Details California’s Progress to Successfully Implement the Affordable Care Act

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Today, Covered California™ released its fiscal year 2012-2013 annual “Report to the Governor and the Legislature,” detailing its progress to implement the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in California.

“In three years, Covered California has grown from an idea in federal and state law to a robust public entity within state government working to implement provisions to provide affordable health coverage for millions of eligible Californians,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “We are confident California will continue to lead the way in successful implementation of the nation’s most significant health reform since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.”

The report provides details about how the new marketplace works, including scenarios of premiums and plan options; describes the steps that have been taken to encourage enrollment in health coverage; and provides information about the offerings for small businesses.

Enrollment in Covered California began on Oct. 1, 2013, for health coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014. Health coverage available starting Jan. 1 will be subject to new market rules that provide consumers more protection and ensure that coverage is more affordable for those not covered by Medicare or employer-based health insurance. In addition, beginning Jan. 1, Medi-Cal is expanding to include a new coverage group, which includes childless adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

“As of October 2013, thousands of Californians started the enrollment process and will take advantage of subsidies to buy quality insurance,” said Lee.

Covered California, working in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, projects that by January 2015, more than 1 million Californians will enroll using federal subsidies, and another 1 million will be new to Medi-Cal. In addition, Covered California projects that more than 1.7 million Californians will benefit from the new insurance rules and get coverage without a subsidy — some purchasing through Covered California, and some on the individual market.

Covered California offers options for shopping online, with fact sheets and comparison charts that make it easier for consumers to select their coverage. Through the Covered California website — www.CoveredCA.com — consumers can view available health insurance plans and premium amounts based on their specific circumstances.

Recognizing the diversity of the state, the entire website and all of its application tools are available in both English and Spanish, and consumer tools are available in more than a dozen languages. Californians may also use the Covered California marketplace to find out if they qualify for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal.

“Covered California is about helping Californians find the peace of mind that comes with having affordable, quality health care coverage,” said Lee. “For example, a single mom with three kids in Long Beach who earns $35,000 a year could pay as little as $89 per month in premiums, and her children would qualify for no-cost Medi-Cal. Individuals and families interested in obtaining coverage can check out the website; call 1 (800) 300-1506; or get help from Certified Enrollment Counselors, Certified Insurance Agents, county eligibility workers or Certified Educators.”

Initial Covered California marketing efforts began in September 2013 in advance of the Oct. 1, 2013, open-enrollment date. Community organizations have also begun mobilizing to educate individuals who need insurance. And on Oct. 1, Covered California started a broad marketing campaign that will go through 2014.

Since its enactment in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act has improved health insurance quality and affordability in tangible ways for millions of people in California. Among other changes, benefits such as free preventive services, cancer screenings and an annual wellness visit have expanded; insurers are now prohibited from setting lifetime limits on essential health benefits, such as hospital stays; and insurers are no longer allowed to re-examine customers’ initial applications to cancel their coverage due to unintentional mistakes or minor omissions.

The Covered California fiscal year 2012-2013 annual “Report to the Governor and the Legislature” is available at https://www.coveredca.com/resources/PDFs/2013_leg_report.pdf.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.
POSTED BY COVEREDCA

SENATORS CALL FOR OPEN ENROLLMENT EXTENSION

November 11, 2013 by admin No Comments
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Senators have called for an open enrollment extension for the federal and state level exchanges. The reason the Senators have called for this extension is because of the time lost at the beginning of the open enrollment period due to technical difficulties with both the federal and state websites. Because the government was not thoroughly prepared for the amount of people that would be looking for health care, valuable time was lost trying to fix the problems with the websites rather than actually helping people get a health plan. Though there hasn’t been any confirmation that an extension will happen, at least it has been recognized that the window for open enrollment has shrunk due to unpreparedness.

Below is an article from freerepublic.com on the open enrollment extension.

Feinstein, Senators Call For Open Enrollment Extension

Feinstein.Senate.Gov ^ | October 25, 2013 | Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Posted on 10/25/2013 5:12:15 PM by Oldeconomybuyer

Washington – As Americans continue to experience technical difficulties with federal and state health insurance enrollment, a coalition of U.S. Senators is calling on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to extend the open enrollment period to give Americans more time to obtain health insurance coverage.

“As long as these substantial technology glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans,” read the letter signed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) along with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). “Our constituents are frustrated, and we fear that the longer the website is not functional, opportunities for people to log on, learn about their insurance choices, and enroll will be lost.”

The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:

COVERED CALIFORNIA REMOVES CARRIER

November 11, 2013 by admin No Comments
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Covered California has announced that is has removed Alameda Alliance from the exchange. The reason the Alameda Alliance has been dropped is because Alameda’s application for a “material modification” was not approved by the state Department of Managed Health Care. This does not mean that Alameda is totally out of the exchange for good, it just means that until they get their commercial license approve they can not offer plans in the Covered California exchange.

Below is an article from coveredca.com on the removal of Alameda from the exchange.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2013

Covered California Removes Carrier From Marketplace
Alameda Alliance for Health Suspended From Insurance Exchange

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California™ announced today that one of its 12 health plans, Alameda Alliance for Health, will be removed from the choice of exchange products until further notice, because it has not been approved by the state to sell health coverage in the commercial market.

The state Department of Managed Health Care notified Covered California that the company’s application for a “material modification” of its license to allow commercial insurance sales has not been approved, a contractual condition for the company to offer plans in the Covered California exchange for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

“Alameda Alliance has a solid provider network and is a valuable asset to the community,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “We look forward to the company getting its commercial license, so we can welcome its plans back to the exchange.”

This does not affect Alameda Alliance’s license as a Medi-Cal managed care plan provider. Covered California will retain its contract with Alameda Alliance and will continue to work with the state and the company to fulfill the requirements to modify its license.

Covered California notified Alameda Alliance in mid-October that a state-issued license was needed to sell health coverage and set a deadline of Oct. 31 for getting state approval.

Covered California informed prospective enrollees that they need to sign up for another plan. Covered California doesn’t expect any impact on coverage in the Alameda County region, as residents can choose from a mix of plans from Anthem, Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente, with service at a total of nine hospitals in the region.

Removing Alameda Alliance from the exchange portfolio will not affect the calculation of federal subsidies.

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.

COVERED CALIFORNIA RELEASES NEW STATISTICS

November 11, 2013 by admin No Comments
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Based on the statistics below, Covered California should be doing quite well. Unfortunately, their website is still having some problems (though greatly improved from week one) and wait times are still at least a half hour long, despite the the 3 min. wait time they claim to have. Also, their agent designation is currently not working on their site. So, if your a person who has designated an agent through the Covered California website to help you, your request is not showing up on that agent’s dashboard when they log in to the website. Right now, if you are using an agent to help you through Covered California’s website it’s in your best interest to fax you application in with your agent’s name and information rather than go through the website. Hopefully by the end of November they will have their website glitch free and running smoothly.

As far as marketing is concerned for Covered California, they are working harder at getting their name out their in the month of Nov. I attended their webinar last week and the month of November is when they say they are going to hit the advertising and marketing the hardest.

Below is an article from coveredca.com on their recent statistics release.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2013

Covered California Releases Statistics for Its Health Insurance Marketplace for Week Ending Nov. 2

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California™ released updated numbers of consumer interest in the agency’s health insurance marketplace and Medi-Cal, with 511,552 unique visits to its website and 49,961 calls to its Service Center during the week ending Nov. 2.

Since open enrollment began Oct. 1, consumers have been shopping for and comparing health care coverage through Covered California, where consumers also can determine if they are eligible to enroll, eligible for subsidies or eligible for Medi-Cal.

For the first five weeks of open enrollment, nearly 2.6 million unique visits were made to www.CoveredCA.com. The Service Center has handled more than 260,000 calls during the same period, and from Oct. 1 through Nov. 2, approximately 227,002 applications were started.

Total enrollment for October is scheduled for release next week.

A FIFTH PLAN FOR YOUNG ADULTS

October 7, 2013 by admin No Comments
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If you’ve been to Covered California’s website you’ll find that their are four metal plans to choose from bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The metal plans are also what all insurance carriers will be using from now on.

There is a fifth tier to choose from that I don’t think is getting much press. For young adults (under 30) there is a catastrophic plan, which will be a low cost health insurance plan, basically used in case of a major emergency. The reason this plan is only offered to people under 30 is that there is less of a chance of a major medical issue and therefore they do not need as much coverage. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a person under 30 must choose this plan or the bronze plan. It is simply in place for those young adults who are not financially stable or are just starting out in the world.

If you have questions or are looking for health insurance, contact us.

NOT ALL INSURANCE CARRIERS HAVE PLANS IN THE MARKETPLACE YET

October 7, 2013 by admin No Comments
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So, you’ve signed up for Covered California already? My question is: Why?

Some insurance carriers haven’t even released their plans, which will compete with the plans through Covered California.

Don’t be so quick to sign up for something just because you heard you had to do it. I believe the law actually says health insurance is mandatory. It does not say you must get your health insurance through Covered California. Why not wait another week or so? Let the insurance carriers release their competing plans and then make a decision.

If you want your health insurance coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2014 you still have until Dec. 15, 2013 to find a plan that is right for you. Also, if you’re having trouble finding the information you need to make an informed decision, why not speak to an agent who is more knowledgable about the subject and can probably find you the plan that best fits your needs?

All I’m saying is don’t all jump at once. Wait and see what else is out there before diving into something that you haven’t even compared to anything.

If you have questions or need help finding a health plan for you, contact us.

Below is an article from Dergalis Associates.

UPDATE

As you may be aware from news reports, the new Health Exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act have been plagued with technical difficulties. Additionally, not all of the insurance carriers have all of their plans available in the Marketplace.

As our clients, we want to make this process as smooth as possible for you. We are going to wait a few weeks before beginning to shop the exchanges with you for the following reasons:

• Since none of the new plans will take effect prior to January 1, 2014 so there is no benefit to shopping the Exchange now versus later.

• We want you to get the absolute best plan to suit your needs, and can’t do that until all of the plans have been released.

• We know your time is very valuable, and don’t want to waste it trying to overcome technical difficulties.

COVERED CALIFORNIA MUST COMPLY WITH NEW LAW

October 7, 2013 by admin No Comments
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Covered California contracts will be open to public inspection Jan. 1, 2014. Covered California’s contracts for marketing, public relations, and consulting are now open for the Legislative Audit Committee to inspect. Though the law does allow the public to view what is in these contracts, it does not change the fact that rates charged by health insurance firms can still be disclosed for up to one year.

The law does not begin until Jan. 1, 2014, the same day that coverage begins. Covered California says they will begin to comply immediately with the new law.

Below is an article written by Reporter Stephanie O’Neill on the new law.

New law forces Covered California to let public view contracts

Governor Jerry Brown has on this week signed legislation that removes a shield of secrecy around Covered California, the state-run health insurance marketplace.

The new law removes provisions, uncovered earlier this year by the Associated Press, that have allowed Covered California to conduct its business without public scrutiny or legislative oversight.

The law empowers the Legislative Audit Committee to inspect all Covered California contracts. It also says Covered California’s contracts for marketing, public relations, consulting and other similar services must be open to public inspection.

“All agencies of California State government should be subject to the California State Public Records Act,” says State Senator Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands), author of the measure. ” I think the public deserves the right to know what are in these contracts.”

The law does leave in place some disclosure restrictions regarding the rates charged by health insurance firms. Covered California can shield rate information from public inspection for a year after a contract is signed.

Emmerson says Covered California officials assure him that while the law does not take effect until January 1st, 2014, the agency will begin complying with it immediately.

WAITING PERIODS

October 5, 2013 by admin No Comments
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The waiting period, or what is referred to as a probationary period, is a stated time by an employer before coverage can begin for a new employee who is enrolling in the group’s health benefit coverage.

This period may not be longer than 90 days and in California it may not be longer than 60 calendar days. This applies to both grandfathered and non-grandfathered plans. It will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014 for new plans. For existing groups it will go into effect upon the renewal of that groups plan.

If you have any questions or are looking to obtain health insurance please give us a call.