Insurers Express Interest in Participating in State's Insurance Exchange

Peter Lee -- executive director of the state's health benefit exchange -- said that 33 insurers and other organizations have expressed nonbinding interest in participating in the state's insurance exchange, the Los Angeles Times reports (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 10/31).

About the Exchange

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

About 4.4 million Californians are expected to use the exchange by the end of 2016. Officials plan to open registration for the exchange in October 2013 (California Healthline, 10/29).

Insurer Interest in Participating in Exchange

According to the Times, the state's four largest insurers in the individual market -- Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Health Net and Kaiser Permanente -- have indicated that they are interested in selling plans through the exchange. Meanwhile, smaller insurers and large hospital systems also might offer health plans in certain areas through the exchange.

Lee said, "There will be a lot of competition and interest, which will enable the exchange to be an active purchaser in every region and pick the best five or six plans." He added, "The plans we will be offering in San Diego will be very different from the set of plans in Sacramento or Los Angeles."

Exchange officials are expected to select health plans for the exchange and negotiate rates by June 2013.

Insurers that are not chosen still will be able to offer their policies outside the health exchange.

Exchange Board Selects Name

Meanwhile, the exchange board on Tuesday decided to call the exchange "Covered California."

The new name beat out other finalists, such as Eureka, Ursa and Avocado.

Robert Ross -- an exchange board member and CEO of the California Endowment -- said, "Covered is an action verb, and if we do our job, that's what we want to happen."

The tentative tag line for the exchange is, "Your destination for affordable health care" (Los Angeles Times, 10/31).

Bruce Jugan
As an "active purchaser" that will select "the best 5 or 6 plans," the exchange is picking winners and losers. As we saw with their decision to further complicate the exchange by adding stand-alone vision plans to placate VSP, the exchange is putting political considerations ahead of consumer interests. Hold onto your wallet, the government is here to help you.
Colleen King
It will be interesting to see how many this dwindles down to once negotiation and more detail comes out.

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