Managers of the new Covered California individual health insurance exchange program today unveiled preliminary plan menus that might be shorter than some had hoped.
The exchange will be offering slots to a total of 13 carriers statewide, but the number of carriers available in an given community will range from a high of six in some areas to as few as three in others, officials said.
Mid-level “silver plan” coverage could cost less than $250 per month for a 40-year-old male in some markets, but the average premium rate for the cheapest silver-level plan in a market will be about $300 per month, and the rate for the third cheapest silver plan will be $335, according to a guide to the exchange menu plan rates and a related Covered California presentation.
Paul Markovich, president of Blue Shield of California, estimated that 2014 rates for individual coverage sold through the exchange will cost about 8 percent more than comparable individual coverage sold through the traditional individual market this year.
Once the effects of new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) fees and benefits mandates are included, the average increase in total cost will be about 13 percent, Markovich said.
The California Health Benefit Exchange, the agency that runs Covered California, will announce the results of the state’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) small-group exchange plan selection process in early June, officials said.
The following carriers are on track to sell individual coverage through Covered California in at least some California communities:
- Alameda Alliance for Health.
- L.A. Care Health Plan.
- Anthem Blue Cross of California.
- Molina Healthcare.
- Blue Shield of California.
- Sharp HealthCare.
- Chinese Community Health Plan.
- Valley Health Plan.
- Contra Costa Health Services.
- Ventura County Health Care Plan.
- Health Net.
- Western Health Advantage.
- Kaiser Permanente.
Anthem Blue Cross is a unit of WellPoint Inc. (NYSE:WLP).
The list does not include Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET), Cigna Corp. (NYSE:CI), Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) or UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH).
Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, said some carriers dropped out of the exchange “qualified health plan” (QHP) application process because they did not want to make as much of an effort as Covered California wanted to improve health care and health coverage access.
Covered California excluded other carriers because their rates were too high, Lee said.
Overall, “we have a great, competitive market for the consumer,” Lee said.
Lee, Markovich and others appeared at a press conference that the California Health Benefit Exchange, held to unveil the results of the individual exchange QHP selection process.
When reporters at a press conference asked Lee about the lack of several major carriers from the plan menu, Lee avoided talking about specific carrier choices.