Gregg Stokes of Reno had been paying more than $1800 dollars a month for health coverage for his wife and two kids – more than his mortgage payments.
So Stokes was looking for a better deal this open enrollment period.
“I wasn’t looking for bronze, or gold I was looking in that sweet spot, a silver plan…that met my family’s needs and my budget,” says Stokes.
Stokes had problems enrolling through the Nevada Health Link website, so an insurance broker helped him.
“My rates went down. I got a better plan, for $400 plus dollars a month less,” he says.
But monthly premiums are only one part of health care costs.
The non-profit Consumers Union says a lot of times, plans with lower premiums have higher out of pocket costs.
Julie Silas of Consumers Union says shoppers should consider how they use health care.
She says they should look at associated costs like deductibles, doctor co-pays and x-rays.
“The idea of the bronze plan is that it’s going to cost less per month but how much you have to pay in services is going to be higher. And the higher premiums you pay like in a platinum plan, the less the services will cost. So that’s a trade off,” says Siris.
Gregg Stokes’s family deductible changed in his new plan, but he says he still comes out ahead.
In 22 Northern California counties, some health insurance customers have only one choice of insurer in Covered California. We go to a rural community north of Quincy to find out what that's like.
Blue Shield of California stopped selling policies to individuals in 250 zip codes in 2014. The coverage area reduction is especially felt in Northern California, where consumers have few choices through Covered California.
Anthem Blue Cross, the largest insurer in Covered California's Northern California region, ended an out-of-state benefit for individual planholders this year. Blue Shield of California plans in the region also restrict care to within state lines.
The open enrollment period for Covered California began less than a month ago. But the pace of applications and enrollments has already exceeded last year.
California offers several services for both documented and undocumented immigrants. But fears about deportation deter many people from taking advantage of the benefits offered to them.