Covered California: If this is a success story …

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 at 7:56 am

The Golden State’s version of Obamacare has gotten more positive coverage than the federal version, but it’s hardly thriving.

Covered California’s problems start with its failure to meet the Affordable Care Act’s central goal: increasing the number of people with health insurance. Last week, Covered California reported it had signed up 625,000 residents, with about 500,000 having paid their first premium. But according to state regulators, about 1.1 million Californians had their 2013 policies canceled because they didn’t meet Obamacare standards.

Meanwhile, a national survey of insurance officials found at least two-thirds of Obamacare enrollees were people who previously had coverage. If that holds roughly true for the nation’s largest state, the Affordable Care Act’s main effect in California hasn’t been to bring coverage to the previously uninsured. It’s been to create churn in the marketplace.

There are other major problems as well. Just 15 percent of those enrolled aren’t eligible for subsidies. If that ratio continues — nearly six subsidized enrollees for every unsubsidized enrollee — then Covered California’s cost to taxpayers will explode.

And there’s reason to think the ratio will continue: More than half of the Californians without health insurance are Latinos, mostly low-income or unemployed. But they make up only one in five of those who have enrolled with the agency.

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