Frustrating. Irresponsible. Stressful. Crazy. Devastating. Asinine. The worst.
Those are some of the words three Californians used to describe their recent experiences enrolling in – and paying for – health coverage from Covered California.
The state insurance exchange is in the final days of its fourth annual open-enrollment period, which ends Jan. 31, and it has been a burdensome one for many consumers.
Two Covered California errors have affected roughly 50,000 policyholders, leading to higher-than-expected premiums or the potential loss of their tax credits.
“My premium is almost doubled; my tax credit went down,” says Jennifer Sticht, 41, a Sacramento resident who was blindsided by higher rates because of one of the recent mistakes by the exchange.
About 90 percent of Covered California enrollees qualify for federal tax credits, based on income, which reduce their monthly premiums. Both of the agency’s recent mistakes involved these credits:
▪ Covered California discovered late last year that about 24,000 policyholders hadn’t provided consent for the agency to verify their income, even though the agency thought they had. Without that consent, thousands of consumers lost their 2017 tax credits, at least temporarily.
▪ Covered California gave insurers wrong tax credit information for about 25,000 policyholders, resulting in inaccurate bills. In most cases the recalculated premiums are higher than consumers had initially anticipated.
“If you believe your recalculated tax credits are wrong, you can file an appeal with Covered California” says Jen Flory, policy advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.