Covered California Explained

How Affordable Health Care Act Will Impact Santa Barbara

With last week’s rollout of Covered California, the health insurance marketplace designed to comply with the Affordable Care Act ​— ​otherwise known as Obamacare ​— ​Santa Barbara County officials estimate that the number of uninsured residents will drop from 67,000 to 27,000, or by 7 percent. Although 13 total providers are participating statewide, each is only available in select markets. The four providers selected for Region 12 ​— ​including Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties ​— ​are Blue Shield, Anthem, Kaiser Permanente, and Ventura County Healthcare Plan.

At a forum held last Thursday evening, Dr. Takashi Wada, Santa Barbara County public health director, said that the county expects 25,000 new MediCal-eligible residents as well as 50,000 who will be able to shop on the new exchange. MediCal will expand to include legal residents at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $15,000 annually for an individual and $32,000 for a family of four.

Covered California plans will be offered to those who cannot obtain insurance through work. Different levels of subsidies are available to those who earn 400 percent or less than the federal poverty level ​— ​$44,000 annually for individuals and $94,000 annually for a family of four. Each health-care provider will sell four plans called Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze in descending order of coverage and price. Each tier offers identical coverage across providers so that consumers can easily compare pricing structures.

According to an information packet distributed by Covered California with estimated rates, a single 40-year-old in Santa Barbara County would pay between $314 (Blue Shield PPO) and $336 monthly (Ventura HMO) for a Silver plan. Prices could change as they are still subject to approval by the state regulator. The new health-care plans will take effect in January, along with full implementation of Obamacare. Applications for newly eligible MediCal recipients and for plans on the exchange will be available in October.

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