SpeakerNet News Compilations
California Healthcare Info
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I posted this question: We urgently need information about health care available in California. I am losing my health insurance in a few weeks and need to move quickly. if you are in CA, I'd welcome recommendations for an agency or group.
DISCLAIMER: Please remember that I am NOT an insurance agent. The summary below compiles the ideas of speakers and others who generously responded to my query. Call an agent for professional advice.
What I learned:
Ask lots of questions. Advocate for yourself.
Be prepared to pay a large fee at the time of each application. An application fee and one month's premium typically is required. Those checks are cashed at the time of application (even if a full refund is their policy if you are denied), be prepared financially for those checks to be cashed.
An applicant can be denied when on a simple medication (even if the problem is under control with the medication). They aren't concerned you will be a high risk for disease, they just want a better rate of return on their investment. (If you pay 600 a month premium and they have to pay out $300 in medication monthly, it is not a good business decision for them.)
A carrier in one state may not be viable in another and you can lose coverage. I discovered, that you cannot be "dropped" by a carrier in one state if the new state has the carrier, but they can make terms so unreasonable terms that it is not a good idea for you to use them (ex: $1000 monthly premium and a CAP of $100,000 benefits per lifetime). One simple problem could eat that up!
Some previously offered plans without medication coverage to avoid the "rate of return" financially, but you must apply twice (each way on a different form, with deposits too) if you want to be considered. Some no longer offer that option and will deny you.
My favorite HMO is Kaiser Permanente. They have a different attitude and good facilities, and most importantly, are fiscally sound and stable. You must live in a service area to qualify. Check out www.kaiserpermanente.org/locations/california/ for more information.
Your coverage options may depend on what part of CA you're relocating to. We're in San Jose and our Blue Shield premiums shot through the roof, so we switched to Kaiser, which we're happy with. You can apply for Kaiser through their Web site -- just do a Google search by Kaiser California.
Kaiser is the largest HMO in the state. I belong to Blue Cross Blue Shield through my wife's employer but a lot of the people we know work for Kaiser. They are almost totally self-contained, at the outpatient and inpatient levels. People love them and hate them.
Our family has been using Kaiser Permanente for 45 years. We are extremely pleased with their outstanding care and service.
I have Blue Cross of CA. While I've never had any trouble with claims, they keep raising their rates and taking away benefits. At one time they were raising the rates every six months, now it's more often.
I use Blue Shield of California. I have been with them for almost two years and really have no complaints.
I have wonderful dental insurance, and I believe the company (Cigna) offers general health plans as well. While I can't speak for the latter, I do recommend the dental, especially if you need a lot of work and it's prohibitively pricey.
I make my checks payable to AAQHC (American Assoc. for Quality Health Care).
I've been pleased with the insurance from the National Association for the Self-Employed. Group discount rate for becoming a member which FAR more than offsets the cost of private insurance. I'm paying less now than I did for COBRA., it'll never be as cheap as a true group plan, but that's life as a speaker!
For info, my agent is very nice and will tell you if she's not the best person to help you. Andrea is at (619) 501-5551. I suppose, based on her address, there's info at www.nase.org too. Haven't tried that.
(Mooneen's note: When you go online and ask, an agent calls. I had an appointment the next day and applied.)
Here is my insurance agent. He's very good about checking rates at several companies. He's an independent agent and also a financial planner.
Life, Health, Auto, Home
220 N. Glenoaks Blvd, #8
Burbank, CA 91502
(818) 955-9762 (fax)
I have a truly wonderful, attentive and responsible agent who'll get you the best deal possible, and will do all the leg work for you. He definitely earns his commission! Stephen Fridge, 415/864-1514. He's San Francisco-based, and knows the California market up and down.
I have worked with these agents:
1. Steve Milam in Santa Barbara has been very helpful. But I have no coverage yet. Steve is working hard on a number of plans.
M Sales Associate - Life and Health Services Office
2. Sandra Schriff recommended Steve Alexander. He has been very helpful and professional. 6964 Camino Amero San Diego, California 92111, 858/277-8111.
(I applied to the California plan (Steve Alexander). Alliance (Mid West National Life Insurance of Tennessee). If they accept you, you have ten days to accept, change the terms of coverage, or reject the coverage. Once someone is accepted it is "non-cancelable" which means that they cannot cancel you. You can cancel any time you wish. If they accept you, they must insure you for as long as you wish (until age 65), as long as you pay the premiums. They cannot raise your rates unless they do so for everyone in the state.)