California’s Individual Health Insurance Market Grows 64%

Data from a new report has revealed that the California individual health insurance market has grown leaps and bounds since Obamacare went into effect last year – this shouldn’t be too big of a surprise considering the fact that individuals who chose not to purchase health insurance would be penalized by increasingly bigger fees.

Source: iStock.com/kadmy

Source: iStock.com/kadmy

According to the report, there are roughly 2.2 million Californians that now have individual health insurance – an increase of 64 percent.

As of December 31st, 2014, 843,607 Californians jointed the individual market both on the inside and outside of the Covered California insurance exchange. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the California individual health insurance market along with those of Florida, Georgia and Texas, account for half of the country’s enrollment growth of individual policies. By the end of 2014, a total of 15.5 million people across the country have purchased their own health insurance policy. This is a 46 percent increase from 2013.

While the fact that the Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to pay a penalty if they do not purchase health insurance, another factor in the huge increase in health insurance purchases is the fact that everyone in the country is guaranteed coverage regardless of what their medical conditions are. The act also provides financial subsidies to lower-income consumers.

Roughly 50 percent of California residents get their health benefits through their employer; however, the percentage of California businesses that provide coverage to employees has been decreasing. Only 58 percent of the state’s employers offered employees coverage in 2014, while almost 69 percent had offered coverage back in 2010.

Around 1.4 million people are currently enrolled in the Covered California exchange. For more information or advice about purchasing health insurance in California, be sure to contact us at the Benefits Store today.

Covered California Reveals 2015-16 Budget Proposal

The Covered California 2015-15 budget proposal was just revealed on May 13th and it showcases the same prudent fiscal planning that helped it to establish the biggest state health exchange in the country.

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act resulted in the establishment of Covered California’s insurance marketplace, which it created in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services.

The following are a few of the highlights of the Covered California 2015-16 budget proposal:

  • This upcoming year will be the last year that federal establishment funds will be used. Covered California will receive roughly $100 million in federal funding for this year in order to continue to fund planning, development and implementation activities to continue to establish the biggest state exchange in the country. After this year, Covered California will begin relying on fees that it collects from its health plans in addition to the reserves saved from federal funds.
  • The fiscal year should end with almost $194 million in unrestricted reserves, which is enough for more than six month’s of operating funds. This means that Covered California is currently on strong financial footing.
  • If enrollment in the upcoming year ends up being larger than anticipated, then Covered California will lower the assessment they charge health plans. If enrollment ends up being lower than expected, they will explore the reduction of costs and either reduce reserves or increase the assessment they charge health plans.
  • In order to maintain a positive balance sheet, Covered California will begin to rely more on state personnel and less on contracted services in order to accomplish their goals and serve their customers.

These are just a few of the highlights of the Covered California 2015-16 budget proposal. For more information about Covered California, contact us at the Benefits Store today.

How You can Reduce Your Small Business Health Insurance Costs

reducing small business health insurance costsProviding good health insurance options for your employees is not only important in taking care of the people that work for you, but also an important factor that potential employees will take into consideration when taking a job for your California company. However, business health insurance can be expensive as well. The following are tips for reducing small business health insurance costs:

  • Keep your employees healthy – The healthier your employees are, the less health insurance they’ll need. Some companies here in California and beyond have instituted wellness programs that include disease management in addition to offering services such as cancer screenings, flu shots and smoking cessation sessions. Not only does this keep employees healthy, it keeps them happy as well.
  • Establish health savings accounts – Health savings accounts are becoming more and more popular amongst smaller businesses. Not only can they be used to pay for certain medical expenses and help reduce your health insurance costs; they are also tax-exempt and could provide your employees with tax breaks. The only drawback is a high-deductible health insurance plan is required. A representative from The Benefits Store can discuss this option with you in greater depth and help you determine if this is the right option for your employees.
  • Reducing coverage – One way to go about reducing small business health insurance costs is by reducing the coverage and asking employees to contribute more. While this does save money, you’ll also make your employees less happy this way.
  • Compare providers – Don’t forget that health insurance is a business. You don’t have to settle for the first small business health insurance plan you run across. Shop around and compare the rates and terms of the different insurers that are out there before you choose one. It could end up saving you a lot of money.

These are a few ways that you can reduce your small business health insurance costs. Contact us at The Benefits Store for additional health insurance information and advice. Our brokers are available to assist you at no cost.

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How the Ebola Outbreak has Affected the Insurance World

Ebola's effect on insurance linesThe country recently experienced a serious scare in the form of the Ebola virus. In addition to causing a real fear in the masses in California and throughout the country because of the thought of an Ebola pandemic being on the horizon, it also caused some uncertainty in the business world, especially concerning Ebola’s effect on insurance lines.

Companies were a little bit worried about Ebola’s effect on insurance lines. A serious outbreak could have impacted a number of lines of insurance, including business interruption, supply chain disruption, workers’ compensation and general liability for California businesses. However, because the only Ebola cases within the country have been isolated cases, it’s difficult to determine how it will affect insurance coverage.

A press statement revealed that although an outbreak of Ebola was improbable, that the widespread transmission of the virus could result in an increase of claims. These claims could come in the form of workers’ compensation, healthcare coverage, life insurance payouts, contingent business interruption and even travel insurance.

According to the World Health Organization, there have been around 9,000 cases of Ebola, out of which there were 4,500 deaths. However, very few of those cases were reported outside of Africa.  The chance of the Ebola virus spreading throughout countries that boast robust healthcare systems is incredibly low. California businesses in the retail, service and food industries should, however, check their policies just in case as there could be key policy exclusions that could apply, such as the pollution exclusion, the bacteria exclusion or the expected or intended exclusion. Businesses that should be concerned about the unlikely event of the virus spreading in terms of liability include those in the airline industry and medical provision industry.

This is a basic rundown of Ebola’s effect on insurance lines. Contact us at The Benefits Store for more information regarding our California health insurance services. Our brokers are available to assist you at no cost.

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Helpful Facts about Health Insurance in California

health insurance in CaliforniaIf you run a small business in California, then you’ll want know a little bit about the health insurance options available in our state so that you can better inform your employees about their options as well as decide on what kind of health insurance to provide for them. The following are a few helpful facts about health insurance in California:

  • Is health insurance required? – Because of Obamacare, health insurance is necessary for pretty much everyone in California, with only a few exceptions. Adults who don’t have health insurance are going to have to pay either $325 or two percent of their family’s income as well as $162.50 per child. Individuals need to enroll in a health insurance program by February 15, 2015 in order to avoid the penalty.
  • Are there tax breaks? – Some individuals could qualify for a tax credit under the Affordable Care Act to assist them in paying for their health insurance. The tax credit, or subsidy, will either be taken as an annual tax credit or used to help reduce the monthly premium. Tax breaks can only be obtained if the individual has chosen a health plan approved by both the government of California the federal government.
  • Are there more affordable options? – If you don’t qualify for a subsidy, you can enroll in an Exchange Plan or a private health insurance plan. Private plans are often more affordable, but they also have less network coverage and often provide less benefits.
  • Where can health insurance be bought? – California’s biggest portal for enrolling in an Obamacare Health Exchange Plan is Covered California. You’ll need income information and social security information to fill out the form.

These are some important things to know about health insurance in California. Contact us at The Benefits Store for more information regarding our health insurance plans. Our brokers are available to help at no cost to you. Also, for the latest news and information, leave your email address in the comments below and we’ll add you to our newsletter subscription list.

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