Affordability

Deductibles to Spike for Majority of Covered California Enrollees in 2023

Hundreds of thousands of Californians with Covered California health plans will see their co-pays go up and deductibles rise by over one thousand dollars next year, as a result of Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of SB 944 by Senator Pan, and Covered California’s board action following the veto. SB 944 sought to lower cost-sharing in Covered California, including eliminating deductibles in silver plans. In a year of rising costs, Californians are crying out for affordability help. With that in mind, the state Legislature allocated $304 million in state funds to reduce out-of-pocket health care costs for hundreds of thousands of Californians. Covered California and health plans have been ready to go to enact the cost-sharing plan. But with the Governor’s […] Read More

The Inflation Reduction Act is SIGNED!

President Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant advancement in addressing health care costs since the Affordable Care Act. The law will lower prescription drug prices by allowing the government to negotiate prices, while also capping out-of-pocket and insulin costs in Medicare. It also prevents pricey premium spikes for 1.5 million enrollees in Covered California. On August 12th, in a divided, party-line vote, all 42 California Democrats voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, and all 11 California Republicans voted against it. President Biden signing this law means millions of seniors in Medicare get a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug spending, and another cap for insulin of $35 a month. Beyond the policy win of giving Medicare […] Read More

Covered California 2023 Rates Announced–But Congressional Action Matters More

After three years of record-low premium rate increases of around one percent, Covered California, the state’s health care insurance marketplace, today announced 2023 rates, including a new health plan option, and an average increase of 6% for 2.3 million enrollees in the California individual insurance market, including the record-high 1.7 million in Covered California. While these increases are lower than the national average due to Covered California’s role actively negotiating rates, we as consumer advocates want to highlight that the actual premiums that nearly all enrollees experience will be impacted much more by the decisions in Congress in the next few weeks. In 2021 and 2022, virtually all Covered California consumers saw significant reductions in their premiums, thanks to additional […] Read More

New #CABudget Deal Extends Major Help to Afford Health Care to Millions of Californians

The Governor and Legislature announced a final deal on the California state budget late yesterday, including some major investments in a variety of health and human services. We greatly appreciate that this state budget deal includes crucial commitments to improve health care access and affordability for Californians, providing real relief to many immediately, with the potential to eventually help all Californians with the cost of coverage and care. Here are some highlights: OFFICE OF HEALTH CARE AFFORDABILITY: Years in the making, a new Office of Health Care Affordability will take time to set up, but has real potential to prevent ever inflating health care prices for all Californians, regardless if they get coverage through an employer, public program, or individually. […] Read More

These Key CA Health Care Bills Passed the Floor This Week

The California State Senate and Assembly held their floor sessions this week, with the opportunity to vote on major health care legislation to increase accountability in our health care system and improve health access for consumers. AB 2080 by Assemblymember Wood strengthens oversight on for-profit hospital and health industry mergers to ensure they are in the public interest and SB 858 by Senator Scott Wiener which updates penalty amounts that the state can levy on health plans that don’t meet consumer protection standards. Both passed this week and head to the opposite house for next steps. ADDRESSING HEALTH INDUSTRY CONSOLIDATION Research shows health care consolidation is one of the major drivers of increasing health care costs. Health prices in California have less […] Read More

CA Health Committee Chairs Intro Bills to Increase Affordability in CoveredCA

New state legislation introduced this week would fill key affordability gaps in Covered California, potentially lowering cost-sharing and eliminating deductibles for over a million Californians getting coverage through the state marketplace. AB 1878 by Assemblymember Dr. Jim Wood, and SB 944 by Senator Dr. Richard Pan, both sponsored by Health Access California would remove financial barriers to care for hundreds of thousands of patients, and encourage even more Californians to sign up for coverage. Without such help, low- and middle-income Californians face counterproductive out-of-pocket costs that are financially unfeasible. High cost-sharing, especially deductibles, lead people who have coverage to avoid needed care, or face debt for seeking care, and keeps some people from purchasing care at all. Those who earn just over $2,000 […] Read More

2021 Year In Review: Major CA Health Reforms to Last Even Beyond the Pandemic

Despite the ongoing challenges through the pandemic, this was a major year of health reform in California. Health Access was proud to champion and collaborate on a number of historic investments in the state budget and reforms through legislation in 2021—victories that provided new coverage to hundreds of thousands, and new financial assistance to many more, while working to make health plans and the health system more accountable for quality and equity. These reforms will not only benefit Californians immediately, but create lasting change that will be felt even beyond the pandemic.  RESPONDING TO THE PANDEMIC The ongoing public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic influenced our advocacy in a number of ways this year. Health Access was an […] Read More

California Health Consumers to Benefit as U.S. House Passes Build Back Better Bill

On Friday, November 19th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, with 42 California congressmembers voting to advance the historic legislation that would help lower health care costs and otherwise make investments to improve our health care system. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration, and would come back to the House for a concurrence vote before heading to President Biden for a signature. The bill passed by the House is the most significant step to lower health costs and expand coverage since the Affordable Care Act. Millions of Californians will benefit from lower health care premiums, more affordable prescription drugs, and enhanced Medicare benefits. The bill helps lower health care costs for Californians, […] Read More

Federal Build Back Better Framework Includes Major Health Investments, Falls Short on Prescription Drug & Medicare Reform

Today President Biden announced a federal framework for the Build Back Better proposal that includes historic investments to help Californians afford their health care, but does not include key proposals around prescription drug price reform and expanding Medicare dental and vision benefits. The framework includes the continued expansion of financial help in Covered California, providing annual assistance of hundreds or, for many, thousands of dollars to 1.4 million enrollees—help that is especially urgent in our high cost-of-living state. The health of millions of Californians would benefit from this assistance to afford coverage, have Medicare covering hearing aids, and other investments in home care, child care, and much more. We are deeply disappointed that despite a broad popular support to have […] Read More

Another Low Covered California Rate Increase for 2022

Following a year that has seen the greatest investment in the Affordable Care Act since the law took effect, Covered California, the state’s health care insurance marketplace, today announced its third straight year of minimal premium rate increases. In fact, earlier this year, virtually all in Covered California saw reductions in their premiums through federal subsidies, which will continue in 2022. Through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the Biden Administration took action to increase subsides for those who purchase health care on their own via the marketplace, capping premiums to 8.5% of income across the board – and much lower for middle and lower income consumers. These actions, along with state affordability assistance, have significantly reduced costs for the nearly 1.6 million enrollees in Covered California, […] Read More