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By Carla Anderson
Covered California, the new brand name for California’s health insurance exchange – or health insurance marketplace – is well on its way to begin operations in October 2013. California was the first state to authorize an exchange after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law creating the California exchange in September 2010.
The state has received three federal grants totaling nearly $240 million for exchange development.
California is moving ahead on many fronts:
Selecting leaders — The California Health Benefit Exchange is governed by a five-member board that has been meeting each month since April 2011. An executive director has been at work since October 2011.
Defining essential health benefits — In January 2012, California lawmakers introduced legislation identifying a Kaiser Permanente small-group HMO plan as the state benchmark plan. The benchmark plan serves as a model for the benefits that will be covered by all plans offered on the exchange. Gov. Brown signed the bills on Sept. 30.
Developing technology infrastructure — In June 2012, the exchange joined two other state entities (the Department of Health Care Services and the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board) to hire a subcontractor that will develop and manage the technology infrastructure that will be used by all three agencies.
Building marketing strategies — Much energy is going into identifying the best way to reach consumers. And, as with any consumer product, branding is a key consideration. In late October, the board selected Covered California as the new brand name for the exchange, replacing the generic “California Health Benefit Exchange.” The rebranding efforts are just one part of a massive outreach effort that will begin in 2013.
The exchange is expected to help more than 2 million state residents obtain health coverage, bringing the number of uninsured Californians from 5.8 million down to 3 million by 2019.
Updated Nov. 13, 2012
State Exchange Profile: California
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of California’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Health insurance information, stats, news, quotes and more.
Let your California governor and legislators know how you feel about the state's proposed health insurance exchange.California Governor Jerry Brown
03/14/2013 2:03 PM -- California Health Report — The state health insurance exchange is offering $46 million in grant money to let people know they can buy subsidized health insurance on the state’s exchange beginning in October.
10/31/2012 4:10 PM -- Los Angeles Times — Thirty-three health plans want to be part of California Covered — California’s recently rebranded health insurance exchange. Peter Lee, executive director of the California exchange, said the board will pick five or six plans for each region of the state.
08/30/2012 5:08 AM -- California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting — In late August, the California Legislature passed two bills identifying the Kaiser Small Group HMO 30 plan as the state’s benchmark plan. The Kaiser plan will serve as a model to the specific benefits and services that will be covered as essential health benefits.
08/24/2012 5:08 AM -- Los Angeles Times — California is gearing up to begin marketing its health insurance exchange in 2013. One of its first steps is picking an attention-grabbing name.
07/17/2012 5:07 AM -- The Sacramento Bee — California was the first state to start building an exchange, and it continues to move quickly to build the technology systems to run the exchange, build public awareness, and determine which health plans will be sold on the exchange.
04/25/2012 3:04 AM -- HealthyCal.org–Knowing that the level of enrollment is key to success, California’s health insurance exchange is starting to focus on ways to make it easy for individuals to join the exchange, and how to use existing state agencies to help enroll people.
04/16/2012 8:04 PM -- AISHealth–Regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Affordable Care Act, many states have the infrastructure and ability to continue creating a state-run health insurance exchange.
04/06/2012 1:04 AM -- San Francisco Chronicle–California was one of the first states to start creating a health insurance exchange after Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It continues to move ahead with its work, expecting to receive more funding from the federal government this summer.