Good news everybody

Covered California has some very good news for their enrollment up to February 15th:

This strong enrollment trend is extending into February, where in the first two weeks more than 100,000 individuals enrolled in Covered California, increasing the cumulative total enrollment in Covered California to 828,638.

“These enrollment numbers mean that with six weeks to go, California has already exceeded its projected base enrollment for the 2014 open-enrollment period…
Enrollment of young adults 18 to 34 years old is trending slightly upward
Seems like things are working.
One other note.  The press release has 80% of first month payments made.  There is one caveat.  Any policy that was purchased after Dec. 29, 2013 has an effective date of either February 1st or March 1st.  The due date for first premium payment for a February 1 effective date would be February 14 or later.  Coverage that starts on March 1st (enrolled after January 15th) does not need payment until at least March 14th.  The proportion of policies that either have been paid for or are still within the window for on-time payment is significantly higher than 80%.

50 replies
  1. 1
    mai naem mobile says:

    Are you telling me that when the state makes an effort to do the ACA right, it works? Shiver me timbers!

  2. 2
    Mnemosyne says:

    The ads for Covered California are freakin’ everywhere. Just about any public gathering has a staffed Covered California table — I saw one on the Venice boardwalk, which is best known for art displays and freak shows (some of them professional). If this PPACA thing doesn’t work out, it won’t be from lack of trying by my state.

  3. 3
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @mai naem mobile: It helps, but it is not neccessary. For instance, Oregon has fucked things up royally (they got too ambitious) while it seems like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania for instance are doing at least a decent job of muddling through.

  4. 4
    shirt says:

    I had to enroll my wife into the California program and the biggest problem was the insurance company. It was difficult to pay the premium because the insurer did not have a direct connect to the site. I filled out the forms for my wife (doesn’t do well with computer forms) and stated so as part of the sign-up. So the paperwork strongly implied it was I who was insured, not my wife. Later billing-actually a receipt– indicated it was my wife. They also mangled my name and truncated her hyphenated last name.

    I’m still not sure if she’s insured but I do believe if it’s FUBAR it’s their responsibility. (don’t even think about calling them! “all of our representatives are busy. they’ll start answering the phones again after the cocktail hour…”)


  5. 5
    another Holocene human says:

    Richard … Farnsworth?

  6. 6

    Elevators at work have LCD screens with news, stock, sports, traffic, etc. updates. A headline came up about the CA enrollment and the dude next to me said, “Obamacare’s gonna ruin this country, wait and see.” There was lots of laughter.

    After he got off I asked, “Were we laughing at him or with him?”

    Unanimous (amongst people who answered), “At him.”

  7. 7
    Xantar says:

    @Richard Mayhew:

    Add Maryland to your list of states who screwed it up. Things are better now, but for a while there was talk of switching Maryland to the federal system because it was working better than the state system.

    At this point I think everybody is just concentrating on making things run better next year.

  8. 8
    jl says:

    Thanks for the news. I agree with Mnemosyne, you have to go radio/TV/internet/newspaper blackout in order not to see or hear a Covered California ad. Also a swarm of ads from private providers and insurers, some either explicitly mentioning it, many not. I’m not sure what the tie-in for them is when they don’t mention Covered California explicitly. Maybe just to get their name out in hopes people signing will see them in the network for some plans and they will get more patients that they want coming their way.

    My impression is that at least half the private ads are either explicitly or implicitly aimed at young adults, or minorities (African-American, Hispanic, or Asian). Seems like a lot of social engineering aimed at persuading certain populations to consider dealing with formal medical care, rather than informal family support, particularly for end of life care and disabilities, and chronic diseases like diabetes and arthritis.

    If my impression is correct, I don’t know know enough about the marketing and provider finance aspect to understand how it all fits together.

  9. 9

    The federal system seems to be working pretty much ok at this point though there are still some bugs. For instance, I am trying to help my mom sign up. I fed in all her information and i get an error message just as we are about to take the final step after electronically signing the application. Which sends is back to her profile and we go through the whole thing again.

    For myself I am happy to say I got a silver cigna plan in Florida with no deductible (co pays are a little high but reasonable) for $100 a month after the subsidy.

  10. 10
    ruemara says:

    My local Sac TV is full of local news reports on every flaw and failure of Covered CA. So liberal.

  11. 11
    jl says:

    @ruemara: What station do you watch? One of the major local channels there has lurched way to the right, either ABC or Fox bought them, I think. Not sure of the details, since I only have to put up with it when I visit kin in Central Valley.

  12. 12
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne: I heard they really fucked up their Latino/Spanish language outreach, however, like Spanish language ads directing you to an English language website, and so on. Can you comment, since you’re over there?

    Florida is outperforming a lot of heel-dragging states because there is an army of volunteers (ETA: in South Florida) going door-to-door. Probably helps that the federal site/phone line is Spanish-friendly.

    It’s the more Republican part of the state that is getting screwed by the refusal to expand Medicaid and Scott’s attempts to block navigators. I mean, except for Sarasota and the Villages (selfish old rich GOPers), because they have socialized medicine already. It’s working people in red counties that are getting screwed.

  13. 13
    feebog says:

    Just think what these numbers mean nationwide. California has 10% of the population and will obviously sign up over 1 million before March 31. If all the states had pro-actively acted in good faith (I know, I know) we would be looking at somewhere around 10 million signed up nationwide by the end of March. And most likely more than 10 million entered into expanded Medicaid programs. Add several million young adults able to be enrolled on their parent’s policies and you are approaching 25 million additional covered THE FIRST YEAR!

    It is painfully obvious why so many Republican Governors and legislators have resisted, and in many cases tried to sabotage the ACA. If close to 25 million were covered by the end of the first year of sign-ups they would be wiped out in the 2014 mid-term elections.

  14. 14
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Richard Mayhew: Seems like it was more than ‘too ambitious’ more like ‘too trusting of contractor’ and ‘contract manager too recently in employ of contractor’ and ‘fraud’.


    There’s a missing, probably non-existent audit. I’m thinking there will be a perp walk at the end of this.

    Now, the Massachusetts thing, that was kinda sad. :(

  15. 15
    Roger Moore says:


    I agree with Mnemosyne, you have to go radio/TV/internet/newspaper blackout in order not to see or hear a Covered California ad.

    I think you’d have to be a complete shut-in, too, since they have plenty of outdoor advertizing on bulletin boards, bus shelters, etc. They have genuinely been pushing it like crazy, and the results speak for themselves.

  16. 16
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @jl: The provider ads are a teabagger’s worst nightmare. Also noticed some pretty good tax prep provider ads recently–the online, inexpensive providers, not those HR Block ripoff artists–that were like a celebration of taxes. I don’t think the gov’t is even allowed to run “propaganda” like that. First time I ever saw a good side to the fact that GOP forced IRS to privatize online tax filing for individuals rather than having a government-direct option.

    Some of those healthcare coverage ads have been manipulative in a good way. Be interesting to see what the “direct” #s are this year, and whether people switch between exchange and direct next year (like if they catch on about whether it benefits them to do one or the other).

  17. 17
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    I don’t speak Spanish, so I’m totally out of touch with what the Spanish-language media is saying. This story was in the LA Times today, if that helps.

  18. 18
    catclub says:

    @Another Holocene Human: “Florida is outperforming a lot of heel-dragging states because there is an army of volunteers”

    I remember reading that Florida and some other states were making Insurance navigators jump LOTS of hoops. I guess that came to nothing.

  19. 19
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @the Reverend boy: You probably have to answer that question about whether she’s a smoker.

    The website is only barely useable in that it sometimes doesn’t make it clear where to go next. But for some reason it finishes your medicaid/subsidy eligibility, has you download that, THEN asks about smoking. You won’t get rates until you answer that question.

  20. 20
    ted says:

    There’s was a little hiccup where I got billed twice: once as a monthly, once as a bi-monthly. One call sorted it out. But I have yet to go in for a visit…I’m healthy!

  21. 21
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne: Thanks.

    Why oh why did I look at the comments under that one? Vile.

  22. 22
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @catclub: OfA style door knockers, canvassers. Not navigators–they’ve made that quite tough. Although my county made sure the navigators could camp out in the same building with the health dept anyway, something Scott tried to prevent.

  23. 23
    SatanicPanic says:

    @catclub: Time to bring out the flaming hoops!

  24. 24
    raven says:

    University of Georgia President Jere Morehead defended on Wednesday university workers charged with helping those interested navigate the new federal health care law.

    Morehead called it a UGA tradition to give unbiased information to the public.

    “In this case, the university is in line with the sort of things the University of Georgia has done throughout its history as a land grant institution,” Morehead said in a regularly scheduled press conference.

    UGA has come under criticism from conservative activists and lawmakers for its Healthcare Navigators program, funded with a $1.66 million federal grant.

    A state Tea Party group collected more than 30,000 signatures last year for an online petition calling on state lawmakers to make it illegal for the university to provide information about the federal Affordable Care Act. One group even staged a rally outside the Coweta County Extension Service office in Newnan.

  25. 25
    jl says:

    @Another Holocene Human: The provider ads that I hear and see around SF Bay and NorCal are middle to high end providers: Sutter, Gould, Kaiser, Hill Physicians, Alta Bates. (and before I hear screams, some of those orgs are definitely not on my ‘Wonderful’; list, just saying that they are not IMHO totally dubious. I hope we can be ‘united’ in that stipulation for the moment).

    Edit: though come to think of it, I may have heard a couple of United ads, but they are not very prominent.

    A Hospice company. Vitas, has a spurts of wall to wall ads, not sure the rep of that company, or whether it is related to enrollment push by Covered California.

  26. 26
    Suffern ACE says:

    @raven: And we wonder why there aren’t more “public intellectuals” out there guiding us on the topics of the day.

  27. 27
    West of the Cascades says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Add, “lacking any meaningful oversight from an out-of-touch Governor (a doctor, no less!) who should be primaried by a competent liberal opponent because of the Cover Oregon disaster.”

    I had beers last night with a friend who started his Cover Oregon application back in October (on paper, because there was no electronic application capability until late November), was (wrongfully) denied a subsidy on his insurance, and has been waiting over a month (without health insurance, apparently) for a resolution of his appeal. Somehow, Oregon, despite a well-meaning administration, has managed to fuck up the implementation of the ACA (at least the private insurance side) worse than many red states.

  28. 28
    jl says:

    @West of the Cascades: Did you mean ‘no less!’ or ‘of course!’.

  29. 29
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    U.S. and Canada are in overtime in the gold medal game. U.S. couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead in the last five minutes of regulation.

  30. 30
    Baud says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Win or lose, I hope it doesn’t go to a shoot out.

    ETA: And Canada wins.

  31. 31
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    Canada scores a power play goal in OT to win the goal. The U.S. shouldn’t have let it get that far, as they played for too defensively down the stretch in the third period protecting the lead. As with her college career, Jocelyn Lamoureux finishes the Olympics watching from the penalty box.

  32. 32
    flukebucket says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): More times than not when you play not to lose you lose.

  33. 33
    cleek says:

    a little less-than-good news about CA:

    California’s health care exchange promised potential customers they would have enough physicians to choose from. But some new enrollees, including an Alameda County woman, are discovering that their doctor choices are extremely limited.

    Julia Turner is surprised that she even has to search for a doctor. When she signed up for a policy through Covered California late last year, her long-time physician was listed as participating in her Blue Shield plan. It turned out; however, that he is not accepting patients with her Blue Shield policy, purchased on the Covered California exchange.

    When Turner called around to find someone else to treat her, she got more frustration. “The only doctors accepting new patients are urgent care clinics,” Turner told KPIX 5 ConsumerWatch.

    None of the doctors are located in the city in which she lives. Instead, Turner said, “They are in areas of East Oakland that have a lot of violence.”

    When KPIX 5 contacted all of the 41 doctors on the list Blue Shield provided to Julia, it found only four of the doctors were actually accepting new adult patients, and only one of them was board certified.

    a fixable problem.

    but a problem nonetheless.

  34. 34
    Emerald says:

    I signed up on Covered California in the middle of the night on October 3rd. The site worked just fine, although they had a glitch in their tool to see which providers took which insurance. The glitch was cleared up in two weeks. I also called the customer service number several times with questions, and they were fantastic.

    Took me about half an hour to fill out the application that night, then I waited three weeks to choose a provider (Kaiser). But then it took Kaiser five weeks to get the paperwork to me so I could pay. That arrived right around Christmas, as I remember.

    I’ve had my first doctor’s appt, lab tests, and a mammogram. They’ve been absolutely great.

    And this is after more than 12 years without insurance. I’m pretty happy.

    But I wouldn’t worry about the payment rate. That’s on the insurance companies being overwhelmed with new applicants. It’s supposed to take two weeks, but again, in my case it took five, and that was with me being eager to pay!

  35. 35
    Emerald says:

    @cleek: That’s the reason I picked Kaiser. I found out that Blue Shield and some other companies were reducing their networks by 50%, and mostly were cutting out individual providers, but keeping the big providers like hospitals.

    Kaiser is using their full network.

    Yeah it’s a problem, but what else do you expect from Blue Shield?

  36. 36
    Mike E says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): Icing! Careless giveaways. Ugh. They had it in regulation. Oh well.

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:


    Anthem Blue Cross has a pretty major history of assholery in California, so I’m not surprised at all that they’re up to their old tricks. Our Department of Insurance is pretty active and has a mandate from the state government to be activist, so they will probably get slapped down.

  38. 38
    Mike E says:

    My daughter at an NC college is fed up with her student BCBS plan and wants to try the exchange for a plan. Would she qualify for medicaid? How would that work exactly? I’m thinking her mother claiming her as a dependent would nullify that…?

  39. 39
    jl says:

    @Mnemosyne: Blue Shield has some similar episodes of messing with customers. The linked article in cleek’s comment says that CA BC and BS are the two insurers in Covered CA who have different networks, one for exchange enrollees and one for non-exchange. So maybe the problem will be mainly confined to those to blankety blanks.

    Edit: though in fairness, in some parts of SF, it is difficult to get a provider to take a new patients. I was surprised when I moved, and found it impossible to get a doc at the most convenient clinics (edit: in my employer’s network) in the city (Edit: sorry, I meant ‘The City’, for any SF purists out there).

  40. 40
    Gene108 says:


    I was watching CSPAN’s call in program this morning. Topic was climate change.

    Truck driver from Louisiana called in and said he did not believe in climate change, did not believe putting gasses in the atmosphere did anything and Obama is trying to destroy everybody in America.

    As much as I would like to think the ACA would wipe out Republicans, the level of irrational rage amongst conservatives makes that impossible.

    27% of the country is palpitating with rage at Obama and votes regularly. 50% of the eligible voters vote. That means Republicans only need to appeal to 14% of reachable voters in order to win.*

    * Numbers are not exact, but the general picture of locked in voters helps Republicans in broad terms.

  41. 41
    Roger Moore says:


    Kaiser is using their full network.

    Which is why they’re one of the more expensive options on the exchange even though they’re one of the cheap to mid-priced options for large group policies. I’m convinced that integrated provider systems like Kaiser- places where you’re actually contracting for health care rather than for health insurance that’s then provided by somebody else- are really the way to go.

  42. 42
    Mike E says:

    @Gene108: Well, midterms are even more “doable” for these clowns because of the tighter margins, so, yeah. We need big turnout numbers to slay the beast once and for all.

  43. 43
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @Mike E: If your daughter is on her mom’s taxes as a dependent, the combined income is what is used to determine subsidy eligibility.

  44. 44
    jl says:

    @Mike E: Yes, we need to hold the fort for 2014, and I hope the new Dem midterm strategy that focuses on broadbased GOTV driven turnout will help.

    Then, I wonder whether the question might be what will the GOP do without Obama? I see on TPM that Bachmann is out yelling about ‘white guilt’ that put Obama in office will not help the Dems in 2014. I hope garbage like that is all the GOP has for 2014.

    Edit: Yeah, sure there is Hillary. But that will be a rerun of the 90s. And how will running an international murder ring and drug cartel compare to time machines, interplanetary teletransportation, pacts with Satan and being the AntiChrist? Just not that exciting, IMHO.

  45. 45
    Mike E says:

    @Richard Mayhew: I thought so. Thanks!

    eta @jl: Our Pat McCrory and other self-regarding GOP luminaries cannot help but to keep putting their feet in it. Herein lies salvation.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:


    I think that in California, Blue Cross and Blue Shield are owned by the same company (Anthem?) so they’re essentially the same company. But, yeah, it’s more a case of Asshole companies that like to screw with their customers are continuing to do it than an inherent flaw in PPACA. I’ll be curious to see if they get slapped down by the California Department of Insurance or the feds.

  47. 47
    jl says:

    @Mnemosyne: In California, Blue Cross is now Anthem Blue Cross and is for-profit (it converted from non-profit and left the national BCBS association in late 90s IIRC). Blue Shield is still non-profit, but has been involved in sketchy and arguable bogus risk related rate adjustments and rescissions.

    I think they were associated with Blue Cross of CA through the national BCBS association, but don’t know the details.

    There used to be a whole economic subliterature on how for-profit and non-profit health care insurance plans differed, but little evidence of that distinction anymore. If it ever existed, it was blown away by consolidation of providers and gaming the opaque and corrupt pricing system and supply chain in U.S. health care.

  48. 48
    Emerald says:

    @Roger Moore: Actually Kaiser was $10 per month cheaper for me than Blue Shield. However, I could have had Molina for virtually free.

    The Kaiser model is essentially a single-payer model, just done privately.

  49. 49
    Bokonon says:

    @Mnemosyne: Another species of this is all the employers that are gleefully and aggressively cutting their medical benefits, and then telling their employees to blame it all on Obamacare.

    And the remarkable thing is the extent to which this works! They screw with their employees, and get the employees to take it out on someone else! Magic!

  50. 50
    Roger Moore says:


    The Kaiser model is essentially a single-payer model, just done privately.

    Not really. Single payer still has lots of independent health providers, but the government pays for everything, so “private single payer” is more like a Cadillac conventional insurance plan. Kaiser is more like a private version of NHS, where the government actually provides health care rather than just health insurance.

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