2017 California Health Care Predictions

by John Hansen

1. Enrollment numbers will likely be similar to 2016.

The Covered California Open Enrollment 2016 turned out 200,000 new enrollees and 300,000 people switching from one California health care plan to another. In 2017, we expect these numbers to be about the same. 

2. The subsidy market is likely to plateau.

The subsidy market is plateauing. There are still a lot of uninsured, but many may remain uninsured. Los Angeles still has a lot of people without medical insurance, and there are other pockets of uninsured around the state that Covered California is trying to target for California health care plans.

However, these individuals have stayed uninsured thus far, and unless the penalties increase, they’re likely to stay uninsured. The penalty has now topped out at 2.5%.

3. Government officials may increase the penalty for those without health care.

If Democrats are in power, conversations about increasing penalties may begin. Higher penalties will force more people to get medical insurance including healthy young people, which could give the California Health Care Marketplace more stability.

4. Open Enrollment will get shorter, but not until 2018.

Covered California Open Enrollment 2017 is expected to mirror 2016. That would mean that California health care enrollment would be from November 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017. The market seems to be stabilizing, and ultimately we won’t need such a long Open Enrollment, but it might be jumping the gun a little too much to shorten the enrollment period just yet.

Some would like to move Open Enrollment earlier so it’s from 9/1 to 12/15. Then it doesn’t overlap Medicare. Others argue that this is still a problem because it would continue to overlap renewals for Covered California health care plans. Still others say, “Let’s do it all at once and just get it over with.”

5. Undocumented children will get California health care in 2017.

The undocumented child bill passed this year. For children without legal presence, they will be able to apply for health care through the Covered California website and get Medi-Cal or coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

6. Rates are going up in the double digits.

Health insurance premiums are expected to rise 10% or more across the board in the individual and family market. Hopefully, by 2019 the rates will be more stable and will reflect the Consumer Price Index (CPI). But until then, California health care plans are expected to still be adjusting to the ramifications of the Affordable Care Act.