What Will Happen to My Current Health Insurance Coverage?
By Esmeralda Mercado, Stephen Saucier, and John Hansen
If you’re currently insured in California, it’s probably a good idea to know how your insurance company is going to deal with your current coverage going into 2014. If you’re with Health Net, you must act soon or your coverage may get cancelled. The other carriers will automatically switch you to the plan of their choice if you don’t notify them of what plan you want.
Beware, that none of the carriers will transfer you to a Covered California exchange plan, which you’ll need to be on if you want to qualify for government subsidies. You can get one of the exchange plans from any of the top health insurance carriers, but you will have to enroll on that plan and cancel your current coverage.
Here’s a rundown on how the top health insurance companies in California will be dealing with their existing members going into 2014.
If you’re enrolled on an Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield or Kaiser Permanente plan that’s not carrying over into 2014 (not “grandfathered”), then your insurance company should be contacting you to let you know that your plan is going to be closed as of January 1, 2014. Don’t panic. You’ve got the option to switch to any standard (non-exchange) 2014 plan you choose simply by notifying your carrier by no later than March 31, 2014.
For the smoothest transition, we recommend that you notify your medical insurance carrier by December 15, 2013, so you can have the plan of your choice begin on January 1, 2014. If you don’t notify your insurance carrier by December 15th, they are going to automatically switch you to the plan that they decide is the closest to your current plan. You will be put on a metallic “Obamacare” plan (meaning a plan that meets the requirements of the Affordable Care Act) with the same carrier. So if you’re with Blue Shield right now, you’ll still be with Blue Shield. You’ll just have a different plan.
If your health insurance carrier switches you to a plan you don’t like, you can still change plans at a later date, but you’ll just be stuck with that plan for a month or more. Notify your insurance carrier by the 15th of the month to get your plan switched for the 1st of the next month. However, beware that the last day in 2014 to switch plans through Anthem, Blue Shield or Kaiser Permanente is March 31st. If you wait until March 31st, your effective date for the new plan will be May 1st, 2014. If you wait until after March 31st, then you’re stuck with whatever they gave you until 2015.
Certainly, allowing your insurance company to switch your plan for you is the easiest way to transition, but it may not be the best or most cost-effective way. Depending on your income, you may qualify for government subsidies, which could drastically reduce your monthly premiums. However, you must be on a Covered California exchange plan to qualify for subsidies.
With Health Net, if you enrolled between October and December of 2013, you can stay on your current plan until March 31st of 2014. However, you’ve got to contact Health Net to let them know which 2014 plan you’d like to switch to by February 15th! That way your new plan will kick in on April 1st. If they don’t hear from you, Health Net is just going to cancel your medical insurance plan.
If you enrolled any time before October 2013, you need to let Health Net know which 2014 plan you want by November 15th. If you do that, your 2014 plan will start on January 1st! If you don’t, they’re going to cancel your plan.
If you’re too late letting Health Net know which plan you want for next year and your insurance is cancelled, then you’ve got to reapply. That means starting over from scratch and filling out the enrollment form all over again.
|Health Insurance Carriers||Deadline for Plan Change to be Effective on January 1, 2014:||If the Form is not Received by the Deadline, the Plan will be:|
|Anthem Blue Cross||December 15, 2013||Switched to a comparable plan.|
|Blue Shield||December 15, 2013||Switched to a comparable plan.|
|Health Net||November 15, 2013, but only if you enrolled prior to October 2013. If you enroll(ed) between October and December 2013, your deadline to switch to a 2014 plan is February 15, 2014 for an April 1, 2014 effective date.||Cancelled.|
|Kaiser Permanente||December 15, 2013||Switched to a comparable plan.|