Costco is offering health insurance to members and the question arises whether the policies offered and the pricing are better than what is available through Covered California or directly from the insurance companies. A bit of research resulted in the following:
Costco is working with a brokerage firm out of Nevada that has agents licensed in California. It offers plans from Blue Shield, Anthem, Health Net, and Assurant Health Plans. The Blue Shield, Anthem, and Health Net plans offer the possibility of subsidy, because they are the ones offered by Covered California, our state Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. Assurant does not offer plans on the marketplace, so no subsidies are available.
The only plans offered are the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, with many variants of each to match the marketplace and non-marketplace options offered by these carriers. I checked the prices and they are essentially the same. Some are $1-3 per month less expensive. Some are a dollar or two more expensive on the Costco side.
The Minimum Coverage plan is not offered through Costco, at least not for anyone over age 29. It is not subsidized anyway, so clients would be dealing with essentially the same price for coverage as through the other carriers offering policies in this area. Minimum Coverage plans are available to persons over age 29 when the cost of insurance is above 9.5% of their adjusted gross income – a level deemed unaffordable. For 2014, they had to be purchased directly from the carriers, with a copy of the Federal Hardship Exemption application attached to the carrier’s application. The Assurant plans were all more expensive than the plans offered by the other carriers for the same benefits.
Given Costco’s reputation for discounted sales, this is one of the areas where they actually don’t offer any real pricing benefit and the products are identical to those that any licensed insurance agent in California can offer.
Remember, a local agent can provide a level of service that someone from out of state may not offer, if only the knowledge of which medical groups contract with which carriers. There is no additional cost for purchasing a policy through an agent, so don’t hesitate to call and take advantage of our training and experience. We look forward to hearing from you!