On Tuesday, the California Health Benefit Exchange board indicated that it plans to reconsider a decision to prevent stand-alone vision plans from being offered to individual customers in the exchange, the Sacramento Bee reports.
According to the Bee, the board's willingness to reconsider comes in response to Vision Service Plan of Rancho Cordova announcing that it might relocate its headquarters to another state if it does not have access to individual customers in the exchange (Kasler, Sacramento Bee, 9/19).
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.
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, 9/18).
Details of Board's Decision
Last month, the exchange board voted to allow stand-alone vision plans to be sold to small businesses. However, it decided not to allow the plans to be sold to individual customers because permitting an individual to purchase eye care insurance from a separate company would necessitate splitting subsidies between the individual's main insurance and vision coverage.
Exchange staffers said that the agency decided that the task of splitting subsidies was too difficult to manage in the first year of operating the exchange.
Following the decision, VSP filed a protest with the board saying that most state residents receive vision insurance from a stand-alone company.
In a Sacramento Business Journal opinion piece, VSP President and CEO Rob Lynch wrote, "Like other successful California companies, we have been heavily solicited to relocate out of state with incentives and subsidies," adding, "Maybe it's time for us to choose to go where we are wanted."
Board Willing To Reconsider
This week, several area business leaders and Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) encouraged the board to reconsider the decision.
At a meeting on Tuesday, Peter Lee -- executive director of the exchange -- said that the board expects to "revisit this matter" next month. He said, "We want to make sure we don't foreclose any options."
In response, VSP said it is "pleased" that the board might reverse its decision (Sacramento Bee, 9/19).