Covered California is Strong

By Wendy Barnett

Covered California is StrongObamacare in the California exchange has been operational for nearly 3 years. Many people are wondering if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is working.  Let’s take a look at Covered California’s recent track record to see the effects of the ACA in our state.

The Covered California Exchange is doing well!

The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015” report in September 2016 which gives significant data on the number of uninsured Californian’s since Obamacare began. According to this report, California’s insurance statistics from 2013 to 2015 (the first 3 years of Covered CA) are:

  • 3.183 million uninsured Californians  have gained health insurance
  • California’s uninsured rate was reduced by 50%  from 17.2% in 2013 to 8.6% in 2015
  • California had the largest percentage of decrease in uninsured people in the nation
  • Nearly 3.2 million Californian’s gained health insurance out of the nation’s 15.4 million who gained  health insurance  over the last 3 years – this means that California contributed to lowering the nation’s uninsured numbers by over 20%

Why is Covered CA Having Success?

Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered CA, related these key factors in a recent article on HealthAffairsBlog  called “Making Marketplaces Work: California’s Ingredients for Success”:

  • Covered California’s risk mix was the healthiest in the nation in 2014 and 2015 according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services
  • Health plans have been able to meet or exceed their low profit targets allowing for lower percentages of rate increases
  • Covered CA’s  average increase in rates for the last 3 years has been around 7% (lower than the double digit pre-ACA rate increases Californian’s were experiencing)
  • The California exchange is sustainable without federal or state support
  • Medicaid expansion in California allowed for more people to become insured
  • The Covered CA Exchange works well
  • Plans in the California individual market have all been converted into “compliant” plans creating one common risk pool as of 2014
  • Covered CA seeks to create competitive markets by working with carriers on affordable network offerings and provider choices for all areas
  • Benefit designs for each metal tier are required to be the same making shopping for health plans easier to choose appropriate plans which encourages retention
  • Continuing robust marketing and outreach to obtain more enrollees for a balanced risk pool that will help control costs
  • Focusing on delivery of care to effect lower long-term costs

While Covered CA still faces challenges in the future, the statistics over the past 3 years show the ACA is working for millions of Californians.