The good news is 130,105 Californians threatened by Covered California (CC) with getting the boot over their citizenship status can keep their health insurance. The bad news is 10,474 are getting cancelled and it’s not at all clear they should be.
The Affordable Care Act does not extend benefits through the exchanges to undocumented immigrants. After the federal government signaled back in May that 1 million people may not have produced proper documentation of citizenship nationwide to participate in the health exchanges, California indicated that it was notifying 98,900 families that they had a problem.
But Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee acknowledged that many of those being sent notices of deficiency may not actually be culpable. “We are quite confident where people have not provided information it's not because they are not citizens,” Lee reportedly told a CC board meeting. “Rather, it's a challenge of getting the information to us.”
Indeed. Sometimes notifications of the deficiency never reach the insured party. Some people have reported uploading documents that don’t seem to arrive at the other end, although they receive no such notification. In other instances, people have been asked to resubmit data multiple times despite repeatedly complying.
Sometimes the problem is simply that a Social Security number or Permanent Resident Card number does not match what is already in the system. That error can be from either end or some muddled place in the middle.
The problems arose during enrollment last year, but the state went easy on applicants because of well-publicized problems with the rollout and the desire to get as many people into the system initially as possible. The thinking was they could be sorted out later, and now they are.
The state began sending notices to affected people last month that they need to provide proper documentation by September 30. Pre-termination notices were mailed out to 9,645 families, representing 10,474 people, while documents from another 6,670 families (7,629 people) remain under review. The deadline to avoid final termination is October 31.
So, Covered California, the agency that has failed in its first year—without acknowledgement or apology—to provide enrollees with any lists of doctors and hospitals participating in its narrow networks because, you know, its hard to get the paperwork right, is kicking people off the rolls for suspicious paperwork.
Covered California is preparing to begin its second enrollment on November 15.