CHA News Article

Covered California Launches Renewal for More Than 1.1 Million Enrollees
Releases updated 2014 enrollment data, announces 2013-14 lessons learned

Covered California announced today that it has begun the renewal process for more than 1 million individuals who enrolled in Covered California qualified health plans (QHPs) last year, and that it has implemented new improvements to facilitate enrollment in coverage for 2015. The first wave of renewal notices was sent to consumers on Wednesday. Consumers who complete the renewal process will hear from their insurance plans in December, and their selected health plan will send a statement reflecting coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015. Consumers who take no action will be automatically renewed into their existing plan. Those who have health coverage through Medi-Cal renew their coverage throughout the year, on a rolling monthly schedule. Unless they are contacted by Medi-Cal, these individuals do not need to go to the Covered California website to renew or apply.

Covered California also provided updated enrollment data for 2014. Notably, of the Californians who selected a plan during the initial open enrollment, 1.14 million (81 percent) had their coverage take effect by paying their first month’s premium. According to Covered California, a total of 1.12 million individuals have effectuated coverage and will be part of the renewal process. Covered California expects this number to increase as special enrollment continues and as recent enrollees effectuate their coverage, with about 1.3 million Californians participating in the renewal process through the end of the year.

Covered California announced that it is gearing up for open enrollment, which will begin Nov. 15 and continue through Feb. 15, by adopting changes guided by a newly released report titled Covered California Open Enrollment 2013-2014: Lessons Learned. The report, commissioned by Covered California, offers an in-depth look at Covered California’s work during the first open-enrollment period.

Following are the top lessons learned and the ways that Covered California reports it is improving its work for the upcoming open enrollment period:

The volume of consumer interest and interactions exceeded expectations and challenged all systems and service channels.

As a result:

  • Covered California will start open enrollment with more than double the number of service center representatives — state employed and contractors — to reduce wait times and help consumers enroll. More than 1,300 representatives will help consumers over the phone, by chat or by processing their paper applications or documents. The majority of these representatives are state employees working in Rancho Cordova and Fresno, but two private vendors — Faneuil and Maximus — will operate call centers to boost capacity during this period. Last year, Covered California began open enrollment with 381 service center representatives and ended with 709.
  • The Service Center’s capacity will be expanded to serve callers in Spanish, Chinese and other languages without the use of interpreters. This year Covered California will have 254 service center representatives able to serve consumers in languages other than English, compared with 55 during open enrollment in 2013.
  • Service center hours — including phone service and online chat — have been expanded to accommodate consumers after hours, with representatives now available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. In addition, the service center will be open on many Sundays during open enrollment, including every Sunday from Nov. 16 through Dec. 15.
  • Covered California is working with health plans to make it possible for consumers to make their first premium payment online as soon as they have selected a plan. To meet high consumer demand, Covered California spent $22.6 million to upgrade the enrollment portal infrastructure to allow for greater user capacity and speedier page loads so that consumers do not have to return later to complete an application.
  • For self-service, Covered California is redesigning its interactive voice response (IVR) system to handle more consumer calls while decreasing wait times and updating consumers on wait times when they are placed on hold.
  • Covered California continues to make improvements so that notices consumers receive are clearer, explanations on the website are better — in both English and Spanish — and the consumer experience is more seamless.

Many consumers are new to insurance and need extensive education about health insurance terminology, how to enroll in coverage and how to use insurance.

As a result:

  • Advertising this year features real Californians speaking to the ways that coverage has benefited them as a result of the Affordable Care Act, including testimonials from people who were able to get vital care as a result of their coverage. The volume of advertising will taper down in the coming two weeks and then ramp up significantly before open enrollment starts on Nov. 15.
  • Realizing that Certified Enrollment Counselors and Certified Insurance Agents are some of Covered California’s strongest connections to consumers, Covered California is giving these valued partners enhanced and expanded tools to educate enrollees, including biweekly webinars, training from subject matter experts, a bimonthly newsletter to highlight best practices and modifications to the enrollment process, and an updated glossary of terminology.
  • This year, Covered California will expand dedicated call lines to help Certified Insurance Agents and Certified Enrollment Counselors help consumers during the application process.

Most consumers relied on a variety of touch points, including in-person assistance, to successfully complete enrollment.

As a result:

  • Covered California’s partners will open more than 200 storefronts in retail locations, such as malls, to help serve consumers on a drop-in basis that meets their scheduling needs. Consumers can get help at these sites to enroll, renew and learn more about health coverage options.
  • Covered California will begin the open enrollment period with more than 12,000 Certified Insurance Agents, 10,000 county eligibility workers and 6,400 Certified Enrollment Counselors to help educate and enroll consumers.
  • Enrollment of African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans will be emphasized and broadened through targeted advertising in relevant media outlets, through Navigator grants supporting in-person enrollment guidance from expert communicators specializing in outreach to underserviced communities, and through engagement of African-American churches to host community-wide enrollment events.

With less than one month before open enrollment begins, Covered California encourages consumers to begin the process of shopping for 2015 coverage. Consumers can find out if they are eligible for financial assistance, and find out how much a health plan will cost them, by using Covered California’s Shop and Compare Tool. Covered California also offers a full listing of the plans and their rates in the booklet Health Insurance Companies and Plan Rates for 2015.

Both the Covered California Open Enrollment 2013-2014: Lessons Learned report and the Health Insurance Companies and Plan Rates for 2015 booklet are attached. The October 2014 Individual Market Enrollment Report is available online at http://news.CoveredCA.com/p/covered-california-individual-market.html.

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