Getting signed up: Tom from California
By Consumers Union on Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Tom R. and his wife used to pay privately for insurance through Kaiser Permanente. They could only afford a high-deductible health plan, which meant that they often had to pay for needed services that did not meet that dollar threshold. Both he and his wife have pre-existing conditions, so finding another plan that would take them – and that they could afford – was almost impossible.
In November 2013 during open enrollment, they explored health insurance through Covered California. They went on to the Covered California website a couple of times to explore their options. Finally, they took the plunge and went through the application process. “The website stopped us, so we tried again two or three days later. In late November, we finally got through,” said Tom. “It wasn’t very hard. We were a little confused, because we already belonged to Kaiser and weren’t sure how to go about the transition.”
Turns out, they did the right thing. They stopped the auto-payments on their previous Kaiser Permanente plan and signed up for a new plan through Covered California – also with Kaiser Permanente. They will have access to the same network of providers as they did with their old plan. But this time, they are eligible for help paying for insurance. Their previous high-deductible Kaiser Permanente plan cost them more than $400 per month. Under their Covered California plan, with federal subsidies, the family pays only $195 per month. They have a lower deductible and smaller co-pays.
“We are saving about 50% – and getting better coverage for half the cost,” said Tom. “We’re doing well – we are pretty low-income, so this is good. I really wish it was retroactive for the last five years!”
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