At a health care policy briefing on Tuesday, California Health Benefit Exchange board member Kim Belshé told attendees that the goal of the exchange will be to give customers the same purchasing leverage that large employers have when contracting for workers' group coverage, the Ventura County Star reports.
The briefing was sponsored by the Greenlining Institute, a Berkeley-based not-for-profit that seeks to expand health care access in minority communities (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 7/24).
About the Exchange
The federal health reform law requires states to launch online insurance marketplaces by 2014.
The California Health Benefit Exchange primarily will serve individuals and small businesses. An estimated 4.4 million California residents are expected to use the exchange by the end of 2016.
Officials plan to open registration for the exchange in October 2013 (California Healthline, 7/23).
Belshé, former secretary of the state Health and Human Services Agency, said, "We're trying to get millions of individuals and small businesses the same kind of power that large businesses have."
She added, "We'll provide a gateway to affordable coverage. There is an opportunity to use our purchasing power to improve quality, to improve affordability and to improve disparities in health care."
Belshé said that the exchange will partner with "tens of thousands" of individuals -- including county eligibility workers, community health clinic staff members and private insurance brokers -- to assist customers in purchasing insurance coverage.
However, Belshé said that state officials face the challenge of educating consumers about the insurance options available to them through the exchange and of "cut[ting] through the clutter of misinformation and outright myth that surrounds the Affordable Care Act" (Ventura County Star, 7/24).