Covered California Signs Up More Latino Individuals, Young Adults
More than 495,000 Californians signed up for private health coverage during the state insurance exchange's second open enrollment period, which ran from Nov. 15, 2014, to Feb. 22, according to data released Thursday during the exchange's board meeting, Kaiser Health News reports. About 88% of enrollees were eligible for federal health subsidies (Gorman, Kaiser Health News, 3/6).
In addition, more than 779,000 individuals enrolled in Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, from Nov. 15, 2014, to Jan. 31, 2015 (Covered California release, 3/5).
Details of Enrollment
Several demographic groups accounted for more sign-ups during the second open enrollment period than the previous period. Specifically:
- Latinos accounted for 37% of new enrollees, up from 31% during the exchange's first open enrollment period; and
- Blacks accounted for 4% of new sign-ups, up from 3% during the first enrollment period (Lin, AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/5).
However, the proportion of Asian new enrollees fell to 18%, down from 23% in the first open enrollment period (Covered California release, 3/5).
The demographic data are based only on enrollees who were eligible for subsidies and voluntarily responded to questions about their ethnicity or race (Kaiser Health News, 3/6).
The proportion of young adult new enrollees ages 18 to 34 also increased from 29% in the first open enrollment period to 34% in the latest enrollment period (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/5).
Even though enrollment was up among some groups, Lee said the exchange fell short of its overall goal because fewer individuals than expected renewed their coverage when they lost their jobs, transitioned out of Medi-Cal or experienced other special enrollment events.
Meanwhile, about 59% of enrollees selected a silver plan, the second least-expensive option.
Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross plans accounted for 28% of sign-ups each -- the highest proportions.
How Individuals Enrolled
During the second open enrollment period:
- 43% of consumers enrolled with the help of a certified insurance agent;
- 30% self-enrolled through the exchange's website;
- 13% enrolled with the help of exchange service center representatives;
- 10% enrolled with the help of certified enrollment counselors and navigators; and
- 4% enrolled with the help of certified plan-based enrollers.
Meanwhile, the exchange's call center received more than 1.3 million calls from November 2014 through February -- twice as many calls as the same months during the previous enrollment period (Covered California release, 3/5).
Beth Capell, a lobbyist for Health Access California, said the group is "troubled by the low special enrollment." She said, "We do think there's considerably more work to do on transitioning people from Medi-Cal to Covered California. We think this is one of the challenges the two organizations face over the next year or two" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/5).
Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, added, "It's good that Covered California has reached further into Latino communities, but there's more to do" (Kaiser Health News, 3/6).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of Covered California enrollment are provided below.
- "Covered California Nets More Latinos and Young Adults" (Aguilera, "KPCC News," KPCC, 3/5).
- "1.4 Million Californians Sign Up for Obamacare, but State Falls Short of Goal" (Brooks, "State of Health," KQED, 3/5).