Covered California announces increase in insurance premiums

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SAN DIEGO – Covered California announced a price increase for 2019 health insurance plans Thursday, citing federal policies as the reason for raising costs.

If consumers renew coverage, their monthly premiums will increase by an average of 8.7 percent, according to a news release from Covered California, KTLA reported.

The increase can be avoided if consumers opt for the lowest-cost plan instead, the news release said.

Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee also describes the increase as “unfortunate.” The rate change “could — and should — have been much lower,” he said in the news release.

The rate change differs from region to region: Northeast Los Angeles County’s average rate change is 10 percent, southwest L.A. County’s is 8.6 percent, while San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties’ are 9 percent.

A recent federal decision to remove a penalty for individuals who don’t have insurance will also raise the cost for both the federal government and consumers, the news release said.

The elimination of this penalty, according to Lee, had a “negative impact” on the 2019 rates and will also effect enrollment numbers.

Health insurance carriers also added an average of 3.5 percent to their rates after the removal of the penalty out of fear that the removal would result in a “costlier” and “less healthy” consumer pool, officials said.

This 3.5 percent increase means Californians will spend more than $400 million on health care coverage in the coming year, Covered California reports.

SoCal Health Care Coalition considers the penalty removal a “single act of sabotage.” Removing the penalty will now cost Californians more money every month in the form of higher premiums, the grassroots organization said in a separate news release.

Covered California has served more than 3.5 million Californians since 2014, the news release said.

There are 11 insurers in Covered California, and all of them will return in 2019, giving 96 percent of consumers the option to chose between two or more carriers.

During the renewal period in October, consumers can learn the price of their 2019 coverage by visiting Covered California’s website at www.CoveredCA.com.

On Oct. 15, people without insurance can also begin to sign up for coverage.

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