Calif. Health Exchange Board Outlines Agenda Prior to 2014 Launch Read more…

At a California Health Benefit Exchange Board meeting last week, officials outlined an agenda to prepare the exchange to launch on Jan. 1, 2014, the Sacramento Bee reports.

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Exchange Details

The Affordable Care Act requires states to launch online insurance marketplaces by 2014. California’s exchange named Covered California — primarily will serve individuals and small businesses.

Supporters hope that the exchange will function similar to websites like Amazon and Expedia so that users will be able to choose between various health plans through an easily navigable online store.

The exchange is expected to open for registration in October.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration granted conditional approval to California’s plan to build and operate a statewide health insurance exchange.

Last week, federal officials awarded $674 million to the exchange, which will help fund the program through the end of 2014.

Details of Agenda

On Thursday, officials said that the state expects to develop seven geographical exchanges to serve markets in:

The Central Coast;
The Greater San Francisco Bay Area;
Los Angeles;
Northern California;
Sacramento;
San Joaquin Valley; and
Southern California.

Officials also established an action plan for recruiting translators fluent in 13 languages spoken in California to help with outreach efforts.

In addition, officials said they would use the new federal grant funding to develop a Web portal for the exchange.

Plans Will Use ‘Metal Ratings’

Recently, exchange officials told Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and the Legislature that health plans offered through Covered California will be classified by “metal ratings.”

According to officials, “Every insurance policy offered inside and outside the Covered California marketplace will be given a ‘metal rating’ — platinum, gold, silver or bronze — based on ‘actuarial value’ calculations.”

The Bee reports that:

Platinum plans will offer 90% coverage;
Gold plans will offer 80% coverage;
Silver plans will offer 70% coverage; and
Bronze plans will offer 60% coverage.

Plan members will have to pay out of pocket for the percentage not covered by the plan

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California’s Health Exchange Granted Conditional Approval..read more…

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On Thursday, the Obama administration granted conditional approval to California’s plan to build and operate a statewide health insurance exchange, the Sacramento Bee’s “Capitol Alert” reports.

The administration also granted conditional approval to similar plans in six other states, including:

Hawaii;
Idaho;
Nevada;
New Mexico;
Vermont; and
Utah.

In addition, Arkansas received conditional approval to operate a state partnership exchange.

About California’s Exchange

The federal health reform law requires states to launch online insurance marketplaces by 2014. California’s exchange — NAMED > Covered California — primarily will serve individuals and small businesses.

Supporters hope that the exchange will function similar to websites like Amazon and Expedia so that users will be able to choose between various health plans through an easily navigable online store.

The exchange is expected to open for registration in October 2013
.

Officials estimate that between 150,000 and 430,000 individuals will have enrolled by Jan. 1, 2014. They expect that about 4.4 million Californians will be using the exchange by the end of 2016.

Details of the Approval

In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown (D), HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote that she was granting conditional approval to California’s exchange because of the “substantial progress” made in preparing for its implementation.

The approval is conditional upon California demonstrating that it can meet exchange requirements and comply with deadlines and regulations.

Sebelius added, “We recognize that California is working under intense timelines, and (we) will work with you to establish benchmark dates that are appropriate and will allow us to jointly monitor California’s progress”.

Comments From Exchange Official

In response to the approval, Peter Lee — executive director of the exchange board — said, “Rightly, the federal government is saying, ‘You’ve got all your ducks in a row. You’re ready to go, and we want to make sure you’re going to be ready on Oct. 1.'”

He said the exchange now will negotiate contracts with health plans and move forward with outreach and marketing efforts.

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