Last week, Covered California released a detailed breakdown of rate changes in 19 regions across the state. Earlier this month, Covered California announced that Californians will only see an average premium rate increase of less than 1% – the lowest change in the exchange’s history. This new detailed information shows that at least three regions will see an average rate decrease, and the largest average increase is only 6% in San Francisco County – still lower than the average statewide increase last year which was about 8%.
Importantly, if consumers shop and switch plans, Californians could see their premiums decrease by an average of 9%. In some places, such as Orange County, shopping and switching could decrease premium rates by as much as 16.5%.
Most in Covered California will pay less next year, more people will get affordability assistance, and even those who buy coverage without subsidies will be paying less, especially if they shop around. Consumer advocates recommend that Californians take full advantage of the ACA and new state subsidies to afford coverage, and use their power to shop and switch to get the best value.
In our high-cost-of-living state, at least a third of Californians were choosing “bronze” high-deductible plans with little coverage in order to afford premiums. Thanks to the investments in this year’s state budget and other state actions to safeguard us from the Trump Administration’s sabotage of our state’s health care system, those consumers will get more financial support than ever before. Over 200,000 Californians are expected to be newly covered, but the hope is that many currently covered will switch to a better plan with a lower deductible.
This news of historically low rate increases is proof positive that California’s actions to shore up and expand on the ACA are working, and are having a direct positive impact on the health and financial well-being of Californians.
Thanks in part to the advocacy of health and consumer groups Covered California is projecting that almost a million Californians – 922,000 people – will receive some level of new state affordability assistance that will lower the cost of their coverage. This includes at least 235,000 middle-income Californians who previously were ineligible for federal subsidies – a first-in-the-nation investment.
More detail on the affordability investments made in the 2019-2020 state budget can be found in this Health Access fact sheet . The #Care4AllCA campaign of 70 organizations sought these investments, but encourage lawmakers and state leaders to take further steps to help more people.
The success in keeping premiums in check shows that we are on the right path towards universal health care coverage, but we are not there yet. Earlier this year, Covered California modeled a $2 billion investment that could cut the number of uninsured in the individual market in half. That should be the next goal, ultimately moving toward a health care system that is accessible and affordable to all Californians.
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