Covered Calif. Reopens Enrollment for COBRA Policyholders
On Thursday, Covered California launched a two-month limited open enrollment period for COBRA health insurance policyholders who want to transition to a health plan offered through the state health insurance exchange, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/15).
COBRA -- or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 -- allows individuals who lose their job or leave their position to continue coverage through their former employers' insurance plan if they pay the full amount of the premium.
COBRA plan premiums often can exceed $1,000 per month, which makes enrolling in plans through Covered California a less-costly option (California Healthline, 3/17).
Reasons to Reopen Enrollment
Individuals with COBRA plans could have switched to exchange plans during the exchange's first open enrollment period between October 2013 and April 15. However, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said that option was not advertised well and that the website was confusing for some COBRA policyholders. Lee said the exchange "absolutely focused" on reaching out to individuals without insurance during that time (Sacramento Business Journal, 5/15).
Lee said, "Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, plans in the individual market could be preferable to COBRA coverage because of premium assistance and cost-sharing reductions, available only through the exchanges."
Details of Special Open Enrollment Period
During the special open enrollment period, COBRA policyholders will be able to sign up through the Covered California website by selecting the "other 'qualifying life events'" option (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 5/15). They also can enroll thorough a broker or enrollment counselor.
The enrollment period will last until July 15 and could affect nearly 300,000 California residents.
Lee said starting next month the California Employment Development Department will offer information about exchange in mailers about unemployment insurance. In addition, he said the state is working to alert employers about exchange plans as alternatives to COBRA when workers are laid off or terminated (Sacramento Business Journal, 5/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.