Navigating Health Insurance Open Enrollment for 2024 in California and Washington

As we inch closer to the end of another year, it’s time to start thinking about your health insurance needs for 2024. Open enrollment is your opportunity to secure the coverage that will protect your health and financial well-being in the coming year. If you reside in California or Washington, this blog post is especially pertinent to you, as we delve into the specifics of health insurance open enrollment in these states.

California Open Enrollment:

In California, the open enrollment period for health insurance coverage effective January 1, 2024, is a critical time to review and modify your insurance plan. This period typically runs from October through December. Whether you’re seeking individual or family coverage, now is the time to assess your healthcare needs and make any necessary adjustments. If you’re uncertain about the best plan for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to Ashley Custer, a health insurance expert at Core Columbia Insurance. You can contact her via email at or give her a call at 206-538-3338 for personalized guidance tailored to your unique requirements.

Washington Open Enrollment:

Similarly, residents of Washington can seize the open enrollment opportunity to select health insurance coverage for 2024. The open enrollment period usually occurs in the late fall months, and it’s crucial to act promptly to ensure your coverage begins on January 1st. Ashley Custer at Core Columbia Insurance is ready to assist you in Washington as well. Whether you’re exploring your options for the first time or looking to make changes to your existing plan, her expertise can simplify the process and help you secure the lowest-cost option that suits your needs. Feel free to email or dial 206-538-3338 to get started.

Don’t wait until the last minute to make crucial decisions about your health insurance. Use the open enrollment period in California and Washington to take control of your healthcare coverage for 2024. Reach out to Ashley Custer at Core Columbia Insurance for expert guidance and ensure that you and your loved ones are well-protected in the coming year.

How a Skilled Bookkeeper Can Save You Time and Money: A Boon for your Businesses

In the world of business, a competent bookkeeper can be the unsung hero behind significant cost savings. This holds especially true for construction businesses and therapists who, with the right financial guidance, can optimize their finances and make informed decisions for their success.

For construction businesses, meticulous bookkeeping is vital for effectively managing project costs and expenses. A skilled bookkeeper can keep track of materials, labor, subcontractor payments, and more, enabling the identification of cost-saving opportunities and the negotiation of better deals with vendors. Moreover, accurate financial records ensure compliance with regulations and aid in maximizing tax deductions.

Therapists and mental health professionals often find themselves preoccupied with their clients’ well-being, leaving little time for managing financial matters. By delegating their bookkeeping responsibilities to experts, therapists can focus on their core mission while reaping the benefits of organized finances and maximized earnings. A competent bookkeeper can also assist in claiming eligible deductions, such as those for professional development or home office expenses.

Core Columbia Financial stands out as a reliable partner in the bookkeeping realm, offering tailored solutions and unwavering attention to detail. Their expertise can revolutionize financial management for businesses of all sizes, ensuring cost-saving opportunities are not missed and errors are avoided.

In conclusion, investing in a skilled bookkeeper can be a game-changer for construction businesses and therapists alike. From expense optimization to tax compliance and organized financial records, the benefits are plentiful. Core Columbia Financial’s team is ready to provide the financial expertise needed to unlock savings and drive success. For a no-obligation consultation, reach out to Ashley at 206-538-3338, and take the first step towards securing your financial future today.

Understanding the Statement of Cash Flows: A Simple Guide for Business Owners

Do you want to know if your company is making money? The Statement of Cash Flows is an important document that helps you understand where your money comes from and where it goes.

The Statement of Cash Flows is made up of three main parts. First, there’s the “Operating Activities” section, which tells you how much cash your business gets from its day-to-day activities. This includes money from selling products or services and paying for things like salaries, rent, and supplies. Next, we have the “Investing Activities” section, which is all about the money you spend or receive when you buy or sell large items, like buildings or equipment. Finally, there’s the “Financing Activities” part, which shows how you raise or repay money from loans, investors, or by giving out dividends to your business partners.

In a nutshell, the Statement of Cash Flows is like a report card that helps you keep track of your business’s money journey. By understanding how cash flows in and out of your company, you can make smarter decisions to grow your business and keep it healthy. So, whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or a big corporation, knowing your Statement of Cash Flows is the key to unlocking your business’s financial success.

CA Sales Tax

Many of our clients are California small business owners. I am frequently asked for advice on sales tax, which I usually preface with an overview of some of the following relevant concepts.

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is the state agency responsible for administering California’s sales and use tax laws. One of the key responsibilities of the CDTFA is to issue reseller permits to businesses that purchase goods for resale. A reseller permit allows a business to purchase goods without paying sales tax and then resell those goods to customers who will be responsible for paying the tax.

A reseller permit is relevant for businesses that purchase goods for resale. This includes wholesalers, retailers, and other businesses that purchase products with the intent of reselling them to customers. By obtaining a reseller permit, these businesses can avoid paying sales tax on their purchases, which can help them to save money and stay competitive.

It is the responsibility of businesses that make sales in California to file sales tax returns and remit any sales tax due. This includes businesses that sell tangible goods, such as clothing, electronics, and other consumer products. The amount of sales tax that must be collected and remitted varies depending on the location of the sale and the type of product being sold.

To file sales tax, businesses must first register with the CDTFA and obtain a seller’s permit. This permit allows the business to collect and remit sales tax. Sales tax returns must be filed on a regular basis, typically monthly or quarterly, and the tax collected must be remitted to the state. Failure to file sales tax returns or remit sales tax can result in penalties and interest charges.

In conclusion, the CDTFA plays a critical role in administering California’s sales and use tax laws. A reseller permit is an important tool for businesses that purchase goods for resale, allowing them to avoid paying sales tax on their purchases. Businesses that make sales in California have a responsibility to file sales tax returns and remit any sales tax due. By understanding these rules and regulations, businesses can ensure compliance with California’s sales tax laws and avoid penalties and other legal issues.

About Open Enrollment

Open enrollment is the period of time during which individuals and families can enroll in or make changes to their health insurance coverage. In the United States, open enrollment typically takes place annually, although some states have their own open enrollment periods that differ from the federal timeline. Below is a bit more background on how open enrollment works in the Washington Health Plan Finder and Covered California systems.

The Washington Health Plan Finder is the state’s online health insurance marketplace, where individuals and families can compare and enroll in health insurance plans. Open enrollment in the Washington Health Plan Finder typically takes place from November 1st to December 15th each year. During this time, individuals and families can enroll in a new health insurance plan or make changes to their existing coverage. It is important to note that outside of open enrollment, individuals and families may only be able to make changes to their health insurance coverage if they experience a qualifying life event, such as getting married or having a baby.

Covered California is California’s online health insurance marketplace, where individuals and families can compare and enroll in health insurance plans. Open enrollment in Covered California typically takes place from November 1st to January 31st each year. Like in the Washington Health Plan Finder, during this time individuals and families can enroll in a new health insurance plan or make changes to their existing coverage. It is important to note that Covered California has a special enrollment period for individuals and families who experience a qualifying life event, such as losing their health insurance coverage or getting married.

If you are in Washington or California and are considering enrolling in health insurance coverage or making changes to your existing coverage, it is important to keep in mind the open enrollment period for the Washington Health Plan Finder or Covered California. These open enrollment periods provide a critical opportunity to enroll in or make changes to your health insurance coverage, and missing the deadline could mean having to wait until the next open enrollment period to make any changes. It is also important to carefully consider your health insurance needs and compare plans to find the coverage that best fits your needs and budget.

Washington Cascade Care OE 2021

Starting Nov. 1, Washingtonians seeking health coverage have more options this year along with financial assistance. New for 2021 will be Cascade Care offerings that enable consumers to shop, choose, and save from more options in all counties.

“As more Washingtonians are impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, having health coverage is crucial during these difficult times” said Exchange Chief Executive Officer, Pam MacEwan. “We encourage all Washingtonians who are seeking health coverage to shop during open enrollment and find plans for how they’re living.”

New this year, Cascade Care plans offer high value, standard benefits. Cascade Care is expanding access, choice, and value for Washingtonians at a time when they need it most. These plans offer deductibles that are on average $1,000 less than other plans, and cover more services prior to meeting a deductible, including primary care visits, mental health services, and generic drugs. Most customers will see that average premium costs and deductibles of Exchange plans are lower than previous years, including eight counties where a Cascade Care plans – either Cascade or Cascade Select – is the lowest-cost silver plan.

“With new plans available, we encourage customers to shop around for the best health plan that fits their needs,” adds MacEwan. “For example, many renewing customers can switch to the lowest cost plan in their same metal tier and save money, and many customers can save more than $50 a month by shopping.”

For those seeking coverage starting January 1, customers need to enroll in a plan by December 15. Those who enroll after that deadline and before January 15 will have a coverage start date of February 1. give us a call today to enroll.

Covered California Begins 2021 Renewal and Open Enrollment Period November 1, 2020

With the start of Covered California’s open-enrollment period just a few weeks away, the exchange announced that the renewal process for a record number of enrollees is now underway — with more than 1.5 million Californians eligible to renew their coverage. In addition, the preliminary rate change that Covered California previously announced in August has been revised downward to a new all-time low of 0.5 percent for the 2021 plan year.

“Covered California heads into the upcoming open-enrollment period with more consumers than ever, and we will be doing so with the lowest rate change in our history,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “California has built on and strengthened the Affordable Care Act, and right now this means that Californians facing a pandemic and recession are finding the security of having access to quality, affordable health care coverage.”

The latest data shows that Covered California had a record 1.5 million enrollees in June of 2020. When compared to historical data, Covered California’s highest enrollment total in October, which is when the renewal process begins, was 1.3 million in 2018. Current enrollees can begin renewing their coverage now, and they have until Dec. 15 to finalize their 2021 plan choice. People who do not actively select a plan for 2021, will be renewed in their current plan, so they do not suffer a gap in coverage.

“During a pandemic and recession, it is no surprise that Covered California is seeing record enrollment, because we are a safety net to help people get quality health care coverage,” Lee said.

New Record-Low Rate Change

Covered California also announced that after the reviews by the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance, the statewide weighted average rate change was revised downward from 0.6 percent to a new record-low of 0.5 percent.

The lower rate change is the result of reduced rates for Health Net’s EPO and PPO products, which are subject to review the California Department of Insurance, in Contra Costa, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tulare and Yolo counties (see Table 1: California Individual Market Rate Changes for 2021 by Rating Region).

Consumers both on and off the exchange benefit from Covered California’s competitive marketplace, which allows them to shop for the best value and benefit from lower increases. In addition, many consumers can save more by shopping and switching to a lower-cost health plan. With the reduction in the statewide average rate change, the average rate change for unsubsidized consumers who shop and switch to the lowest-cost plan in the same metal tier is now -7.4 percent, which means many Californians can get a lower gross premium if they shop and switch. The average rate change varies by region and by an individual’s personal situation.

Nearly nine out of every 10 consumers who enroll through Covered California receive financial help — in the form of federal tax credits, state subsidies, or both — which help make health care more affordable. California’s state-specific enhanced subsidies, which were introduced for the first time in 2020, are benefiting about 590,000 enrollees in Covered California and are available again for both new and renewing members in 2021. 

“The bold policy choices made in California to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act have led to a very competitive market that is full of choice for consumers,” Lee said. “Covered California continues to provide stability and lower costs in the face of national uncertainty in health care.”

In 2021, all 11 carriers will continue offering products across the state, and two companies will expand their coverage areas, providing increased competition and consumer choice. Nearly all Californians (99.8 percent) will have two or more choices and over three-quarter of Californians (77 percent) will have four or more choices.

Open enrollment for the upcoming year will begin Nov. 1, 2020, and run through Jan. 31. Open enrollment is the one time of the year where eligible consumers cannot be turned away from coverage for any reason. Covered California will be launching a new ad campaign on Nov. 9 and has budgeted $157 million for marketing, sales and outreach during the current fiscal year — an increase of more than $30 million from last year.

In addition, consumers who need coverage earlier may be eligible for the special-enrollment period that is currently underway. Consumers who experience a qualifying life event, such as: losing their health care coverage, losing their job, suffering a loss of income, moving or being a wildfire victim, could be eligible to sign up for coverage that begins in November or December.

California Marketplace Domestic Abuse QLE Details and Enrollment Instructions

 As of October 5, 2020, “Victim of domestic abuse or spousal abandonment” is available as a distinct Qualifying Life Event (QLE) selection on the special enrollment period (SEP) dropdown menu in the CalHEERS application.  However, the consumer would need to have prior knowledge of these options and manually enter the reason using the “Other” QLE option on the dropdown menu. If you have any questions, or have trouble with your application, Core Columbia is here to provide free assistance.                

Starting October 5, 2020, consumers can select the “Victims of domestic abuse or spousal abandonment” QLE to:Apply for coverage (for new members).Remove self and/or dependents and begin a new case and enrollment (if enrolled on an existing case).·A QLE is NOT needed for coverage terminations, but the authority of the consumer depends on the consumer’s role in the case. If the consumer is the Primary Contact or authorized representative of the Primary Contact, the consumer may remove the abuser and/or dependents from the case.If the consumer is the spouse or registered domestic partner of the Primary Contact, the consumer may remove self and/or dependents from the case. If the consumer is NOT the spouse or registered domestic partner of the Primary Contact, the consumer may remove self from the case but not dependents.The only exception is if the consumer is a dependent or unmarried victim of domestic abuse within the same household as the Primary Contact. In that event, they may remove self and/or their dependents from their abuser’s case and plan and then enroll in a new plan under their own case using this QLE.The Primary Contact will receive notification of the change to their household plan.The consumer can apply using the single or head of household tax filing status on their new application without penalty of misrepresenting marital status or tax filing status.Consumer will need to consult a certified public accountant or a tax specialist about the marital and tax filing statuses they must report on their tax returns.After selecting the QLE and completing the application, coverage will be effective according to the 15-day rule.
New vs. Existing Consumers For New ConsumersMarital Status:  Enter the status as stated by the consumer (single, married, divorced, etc.).Note: If consumer states “married,” spousal information is required. Consumers using the “Victim of domestic abuse or spousal abandonment” QLE may choose to declare a different marital status despite being married to avoid the requirement to enter spousal information.Tax Filing Status:  Enter “head of household” if the consumer claims a dependent child (natural child, stepchild, or foster child) on their tax return, or “single” if not. Do NOT enter “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.”Do not enter partner’s income.For married individuals who receive federal tax credit and/or state subsidy and will not file taxes as “Married Filing Jointly,” alert the consumer that he or she may need to check the exception box at the top of page 1, IRS Form 8962 and Form FTB 3849, as applicable. Consumers in this situation should talk to a tax advisor about their specific situation.  For Current Covered California Consumers (no Medi-Cal)To remove an abuser and/or dependent(s) from a case (if Primary Contact or spouse, registered domestic partner or authorized representative of the Primary Contact:“Remove a Member” using the Report a Change process.If Open Enrollment (OE), complete application for a new case as usual.If not OE, select the “Victim of domestic abuse or spousal abandonment” QLE and follow steps above to begin a new case.

Reporting Your Lost Wage Assistance FEMA Payment in Washington

Beginning September 21st, Employment Security Department will begin processing payments of an additional $300 per week to the state base weekly unemployment benefit approved under the Lost Wages Assistance FEMA payment.

Federal Emergency Management Assistance (FEMA) has approved five weeks of payments, for weeks August 1st – September 5th*. The duration of the benefit is undefined (contingent on weekly federal approval) and recipients receive the payments retroactively for eligible weeks. 

*As of September 14th, 2020, the payments were approved on a weekly basis for that time.

The Lost Wages Assistance FEMA payments is not countable for Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) eligibility but is countable for tax credit and cost-sharing reductions. You should not include the $300 Lost Wages Assistance FEMA payment in your weekly unemployment income amount reported to the Washington Healthplanfinder application.

You may choose to adjust your Qualified Health Plan tax credits by adjusting the amount of tax credits applied to your premium in Washington Healthplanfinder.

If you require assistance, or have any questions, give us a call at 206-258-6820.

2021 California Health Insurance Rate Changes Announced

Covered California announced today that the average rate change for the 2021 individual market will be 0.6 percent. This marks a record-low for the second consecutive year and follows California’s efforts to build on, and go beyond, the Affordable Care Act!

The rate change was driven lower by California’s affordability initiatives, the state subsidy program and state individual mandate penalty, which were designed to improve affordability and encourage enrollment.

All 11 of Covered California’s health plans will be returning for 2021, and two plans will be expanding their coverage areas. As a result, 88 percent of Californians will be able to choose from three carriers or more and 99.8 percent of consumers will have two or more choices.

As always, if you have questions, give us a call at (619) 259-6905. We are here to help.